Principles and patterns of bat movements: From aerodynamics to ecology

Christian C. Voigt, Winifred F. Frick, Marc W. Holderied, Richard Holland, Gerald Kerth, Marco A.R. Mello, Raina K. Plowright, Sharon Swartz, Yossi Yovel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)
208 Downloads (Pure)


Movement ecology as an integrative discipline has advanced associated fields because it presents not only a conceptual framework for understanding movement principles but also helps formulate predictions about the consequences of movements for animals and their environments. Here, we synthesize recent studies on principles and patterns of bat movements in context of the movement ecology paradigm. The motion capacity of bats is defined by their highly articulated, flexible wings. Power production during flight follows a U-shaped curve in relation to speed in bats yet, in contrast to birds, bats use mostly exogenous nutrients for sustained flight. The navigation capacity of most bats is dominated by the echolocation system, yet other sensory modalities, including an iron-based magnetic sense, may contribute to navigation depending on a bat’s familiarity with the terrain. Patterns derived from these capacities relate to antagonistic and mutualistic interactions with food items. The navigation capacity of bats may influence their sociality, in particular, the extent of group foraging based on eavesdropping on conspecifics’ echolocation calls. We infer that understanding the movement ecology of bats within the framework of the movement ecology paradigm provides new insights into ecological processes mediated by bats, from ecosystem services to diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-287
Number of pages21
JournalQuarterly Review of Biology
Issue number3
Early online date15 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • Biomechanics
  • Cognition
  • Echolocation
  • Emerging infectious diseases
  • Energetics
  • Migration
  • Mutualism
  • Sociality


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