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Sensory Systems and Spatial Memory in the Fruit Bat Rousettus aegyptiacus


Richard A. Holland, Biology Department, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK. E-mail:


The megachiropteran fruit bat Rousettus aegyptiacus is able to orient and navigate using both vision and echolocation. These two sensory systems have different environmental constraints however, echolocation being relatively short range when compared with vision. Despite this difference, an experiment testing their memory of a perch location demonstrates that once the location of a perch is learned R. aegyptiacus is not influenced by the movement of local landmark cues in the vicinity of the perch under either light or dark conditions. Thus despite the differing constraints of vision and echolocation, this suggests a place is remembered as a location in space and not by associations with landmarks in the vicinity. A decrease in initial performance when the task was repeated in the dark suggested the possibility that a memory of a location learned using vision does not generalize to echolocation.

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