The peripheral auditory characteristics of noctuid moths: Responses to the search-phase echolocation calls of bats

Dean A. Waters, Gareth Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The noctuid moths Agrotis segetum and Noctua pronuba show peak auditory sensitivity between 15 and 25 kHz, and a maximum sensitivity of 35 dB SPL. A. segetum shows a temporal integration time of 69 ms. It is predicted that bats using high-frequency and short-duration calls will be acoustically less apparent to these moths. Short-duration frequency-modulated (FM) calls of Plecotus auritus are not significantly less acoustically apparent than those of other FM bats with slightly longer call durations, based on their combined frequency and temporal structure alone. Long-duration, high-frequency, constant-frequency (CF) calls of Rhinolophus hipposideros at 113 kHz are significantly less apparent than those of the FM bats tested. The predicted low call apparency of the 83 kHz CF calls of R. ferrumequinum appears to be counteracted by their long duration. It is proposed that two separate mechanisms are exploited by bats to reduce their call apparency, low intensity in FM bats and high frequency in CF bats. Within the FM bats tested, shorter-duration calls do not significantly reduce the apparency of the call at the peripheral level, though they may limit the amount of information available to the central nervous system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)847-856
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 1996


  • Noctuid moths
  • Audition
  • Call apparency
  • Bats
  • Auditory sensitivity
  • Agrotis segetum
  • Noctua pronuba
  • Echolocation
  • Sonar

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