Bimodal distribution of constant frequencies in some hipposiderid bats (Mammalia: Hipposideridae)



Constant frequency echolocation signals of the Rhinolophidae and Hipposideridae have generally been found to occupy narrow bands, at least within single populations. Examination of three species of Hipposideridae from a cave in Kenya shows a wide spread of frequencies in each case. In Hipposideros commersoni the pulses occur in two bands at 56 and 66 kHz with a silent interval of 8 kHz. Single individuals in isolation use only one of these frequencies and this is correlated with their forearm length. It may be that two forms of subspecific rank were cohabiting, but it may be significant that the width of the silent band is just wide enough to prevent interference from band-spreading due to reflection from beating wings when several bats are flying together. In Triaenops afer and Hipposideros caffer there is a suggestion that the bats leave silent bands when in groups but use more varied individual frequencies when isolated. This impression might be due to sampling error and the position is little clarified by examining other populations. A group of Asellia tridens from Egypt occupied a single, fairly narrow band of frequencies. Further examination of these and other constant frequency species with a simple detector would be of interest in resolving the position.