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Keywords:

  • echolocation;
  • Pipistrellus kuhlii;
  • flight situations;
  • variation in calls;
  • roost

Abstract

Flexibility in the echolocation call structure of bats can improve their performances, because, in some situations, some signal designs are better than others. Hence, at least some bats should adjust their echolocation calls according to the setting in which they are operating but also to the specific task at hand, that is their behavioral intention. We studied variation in the echolocation calls of Pipistrellus kuhlii emitted during four flight situations that were similar in setting but differed in behavioral context: emergence from a roost, commuting to and from foraging sites, foraging and returning to a roost. Echolocation calls produced by P. kuhlii differed significantly according to the flight situation. Call types differed most distinctly between foraging and commuting. We also found a high variance in the emergence calls we recorded, perhaps reflecting pre- and post-takeoff calls. Discriminant function analysis on calls emitted while foraging, commuting or returning to the roost classified the calls to the correct group 73.3% of the time. The differences between bats' echolocation calls in different flight situations might indicate an intrinsic change in the bat's behavior. Recognizing these differences could be crucial when using call variables to identify bat species.