Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Aaron J. Corcoran; Theodore J. Weller
    Date: 2018
    Source: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Pacific Southwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (1.0 MB)


    Echolocation allows bats to occupy diverse nocturnal niches. Bats almost always use echolocation, even when other sensory stimuli are available to guide navigation. Here, using arrays of calibrated infrared cameras and ultrasonic microphones, we demonstrate that hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus) use previously unknown echolocation behaviours that challenge our current understanding of echolocation. We describe a novel call type (‘micro’ calls) that has three orders of magnitude less sound energy than other bat calls used in open habitats. We also document bats flying close to microphones (less than 3 m) without producing detectable echolocation calls. Acoustic modelling indicates that bats are not producing calls that exceed 70–75 dB at 0.1 m, a level that would have little or no known use for a bat flying in the open at speeds exceeding 7 m s−1. This indicates that hoary bats sometimes fly without echolocation. We speculate that bats reduce echolocation output to avoid eavesdropping by conspecifics during the mating season. These findings might partly explain why tens of thousands of hoary bats are killed by wind turbines each year. They also challenge the long-standing assumption that bats—model organisms for sensory specialization—are reliant on sonar for nocturnal navigation.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Corcoran, Aaron J.; Weller, Theodore J. 2018. Inconspicuous echolocation in hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus). Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 285(1878): 20180441.


    Google Scholar


    bats, echolocation, sensory biology, sonar, stealth

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page