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Animal coordinated movement interactions are commonly explained by assuming unspecified social forces of attraction, repulsion and alignment with parameters drawn from observed movement data. Here we propose and test a biologically realistic and quantifiable biosonar movement interaction mechanism for echolocating bats based on spatial perceptual bias, i.e. actual sound field, a reaction delay, and observed motor constraints in speed and acceleration. We found that foraging pairs of bats flying over a water surface swapped leader-follower roles and performed chases or coordinated manoeuvres by copying the heading a nearby individual has had up to 500 ms earlier. Our proposed mechanism based on the interplay between sensory-motor constraints and delayed alignment was able to recreate the observed spatial actor-reactor patterns. Remarkably, when we varied model parameters (response delay, hearing threshold and echolocation directionality) beyond those observed in nature, the spatio-temporal interaction patterns created by the model only recreated the observed interactions, i.e. chases, and best matched the observed spatial patterns for just those response delays, hearing thresholds and echolocation directionalities found to be used by bats. This supports the validity of our sensory ecology approach of movement coordination, where interacting bats localise each other by active echolocation rather than eavesdropping.
Giuggioli, L., Mcketterick, T. J., & Holderied, M. W. (2015). Delayed Response and Biosonar Perception Explain Movement Coordination in Trawling Bats. PLoS Computational Biology, 11(3), [e1004089]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004089