For decades, researchers have speculated how echolocating bats deal with masking by conspecific calls when flying in aggregations. To date, only a few attempts have been made to mathematically quantify the probability of jamming, or its effects. We developed a comprehensive sensorimotor predator-prey simulation, modeling numerous bats foraging in proximity. We used this model to examine the effectiveness of a spectral Jamming Avoidance Response (JAR) as a solution for the masking problem. We found that foraging performance deteriorates when bats forage near conspecifics, however, applying a JAR does not improve insect sensing or capture. Because bats constantly adjust their echolocation to the performed task (even when flying alone), further shifting the signals' frequencies does not mitigate jamming. Our simulations explain how bats can hunt successfully in a group despite competition and despite potential masking. This research demonstrates the advantages of a modeling approach when examining a complex biological system.
All data generated during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files. Source code files are uploaded with a Graphical User Interface and a readme file for explanation.
- Omer Mazar
The funders had no role in study design, data collection, and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Andrew J King, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
© 2020, Mazar & Yovel
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