Insight on how fishing bats discern prey and adjust their mechanic and sensorial features during the attack sequence
Garín Atorrasagasti, Ignacio
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Scientific Reports 5 : (2015) // Article ID 12392
Several insectivorous bats have included fish in their diet, yet little is known about the processes underlying this trophic shift. We performed three field experiments with wild fishing bats to address how they manage to discern fish from insects and adapt their hunting technique to capture fish. We show that bats react only to targets protruding above the water and discern fish from insects based on prey disappearance patterns. Stationary fish trigger short and shallow dips and a terminal echolocation pattern with an important component of the narrowband and low frequency calls. When the fish disappears during the attack process, bats regulate their attack increasing the number of broadband and high frequency calls in the last phase of the echolocation as well as by lengthening and deepening their dips. These adjustments may allow bats to obtain more valuable sensorial information and to perform dips adjusted to the level of uncertainty on the location of the submerged prey. The observed ultrafast regulation may be essential for enabling fishing to become cost-effective in bats, and demonstrates the ability of bats to rapidly modify and synchronise their sensorial and motor features as a response to last minute stimulus variations.