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The effect of familiarity on echolocation in the megachiropteran bat Rousettus aegyptiacus

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Much is known about the way bats adjust their echolocation behaviour in response to environmental structure or to locate insect prey. By contrast, little is known about how echolocation calls are modulated in response to familiarity of the environment and objects within it. Here we show that the echolocating Megachiropteran bat Rousettus aegyptiacus produces echolocation signals at the same rate whether an obstacle is predictable or unpredictable in location, but that it has a reduced rate of echolocation signal production in a familiar environment with no obstacle present. This suggests that signal production is reduced in a familiar environment absent of 'clutter' but that probing the environment for maximum information is more important for this species than minimizing any cost of probing the environment in a cluttered space.

Affiliations: 1: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department, Princeton University, Princeton, 08544-1003, USA; Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK;, Email:; 2: Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK


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