Echolocation signal structure in the Megachiropteran bat Rousettus aegyptiacus Geoffroy 1810

Richard A. Holland, Dean A. Waters, Jeremy M. V. Rayner

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Rousettus aegyptiacus Geoffroy 1810 is a member of the only genus of Megachiropteran bats to use vocal echolocation, but the structure of its brief, click-like signal is poorly described. Although thought to have a simple echolocation system compared to that of Microchiroptera, R. aegyptiacus is capable of good obstacle avoidance using its impulse sonar. The energy content of the signal was at least an order of magnitude smaller than in Microchiropteran bats and dolphins (approximately 4 X 10(-8) J m(-2)). Measurement of the duration, amplitude and peak frequency demonstrate that the signals of this animal are broadly similar in structure and duration to those of dolphins. Gabor functions were used to model signals and to estimate signal parameters, and the quality of the Gabor function fit to the early part of the signal demonstrates that the echolocation signals of R. aegyptiacus match the minimum spectral spread for their duration and amplitude and are thus well matched to its best hearing sensitivity. However, the low energy content of the signals and short duration should make returning echoes difficult to detect. The performance of R. aegyptincus in obstacle avoidance experiments using echolocation therefore remains something of a conundrum.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4361-4369
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2004


  • Echolocation
  • Click
  • Megachiroptera
  • Bat
  • Rousettus aegyptiacus
  • Intensity

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