Wednesday, 23 May 2012

For Bats: What Sounds Good Doesn't Always Taste Good



ScienceDaily (May 21, 2012) — Bats fine-tune their hunting strategy based on information from a sequence of sensory cues.

Bats use a combination of cues in their hunting sequence -- capture, handling and consumption -- to decide which prey to attack, catch and consume and which ones they are better off leaving alone or dropping mid-way through the hunt. Eavesdropping bats first listen to their prey, then they assess its size, and finally they taste it. The work by Dr. Rachel Page and her team from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama is published online in Springer's journal Naturwissenschaften -- The Science of Nature.


To survive, predators must find prey that is both of the right size and edible. To accomplish this goal, predators often use multiple sensory cues to detect and assess prey. Page and colleagues' experiments show that the fringe-lipped bat, Trachops cirrhosus, which feeds on a variety of prey including frogs, uses acoustic cues from a distance first. Then the bat fine tunes its hunting strategy at close range by assessing the prey's size, likely by echolocation, and finally tastes it by using chemical cues. It sequentially re-assesses the suitability of its prey throughout the hunt.


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