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Dieter Vanderelst; Jonas Reijniers; Uwe Firzlaff; Herbert Peremans (2011)
Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Journal: PLoS Computational Biology
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: Computational Biology, Sensory Perception, Research Article, Biology, Behavioral Ecology, Animal Behavior, Neuroscience, Computational Neuroscience, QH301-705.5, Theoretical Biology, Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, Sensory Systems, Evolutionary Ecology, Biology (General)
Rhinolophidae or Horseshoe bats emit long and narrowband calls. Fluttering insect prey generates echoes in which amplitude and frequency shifts are present, i.e. glints. These glints are reliable cues about the presence of prey and also encode certain properties of the prey. In this paper, we propose that these glints, i.e. the dominant glints, are also reliable signals upon which to base prey localization. In contrast to the spectral cues used by many other bats, the localization cues in Rhinolophidae are most likely provided by self-induced amplitude modulations generated by pinnae movement. Amplitude variations in the echo not introduced by the moving pinnae can be considered as noise interfering with the localization process. The amplitude of the dominant glints is very stable. Therefore, these parts of the echoes contain very little noise. However, using only the dominant glints potentially comes at a cost. Depending on the flutter rate of the insect, a limited number of dominant glints will be present in each echo giving the bat a limited number of sample points on which to base localization. We evaluate the feasibility of a strategy under which Rhinolophidae use only dominant glints. We use a computational model of the echolocation task faced by Rhinolophidae. Our model includes the spatial filtering of the echoes by the morphology of the sonar apparatus of Rhinolophus rouxii as well as the amplitude modulations introduced by pinnae movements. Using this model, we evaluate whether the dominant glints provide Rhinolophidae with enough information to perform localization. Our simulations show that Rhinolophidae can use dominant glints in the echoes as carriers for self-induced amplitude modulations serving as localization cues. In particular, it is shown that the reduction in noise achieved by using only the dominant glints outweighs the information loss that occurs by sampling the echo.

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