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The biosonar arms race between bats and insects

The biosonar arms race between bats and insects

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The evolutionary arms-race between bats and insects is a classic example of coevolution between predator and prey. The counter adaptations of night flying insects to bat echolocation calls and subsequent adaptations of bats to combat the hearing abilities of many insects makes it one of the few examples of species responding to selective pressure from one another. A true arms-race of the sensory systems and behaviour across species. There are already examples of some of the strategies that bats use to try and counter moth adaptations found within the technological world. The stealth echolocation utilised by B. barbastellus is analogous to low-probability-of-intercept (LPI) radar, whilst the use of bat-inspired harmonics in waveform design has been shown to potentially bring advantages in enhancing radar performance in unfavourable conditions. Although a great deal has been learnt about the ongoing acoustic battle between bats and insects, there is of course still much to uncover about this fascinating interaction. Much of the work done thus far has focused on moths, yet numerous night flying insects are preyed upon by bats, most of which have yet to be studied in similar detail. More advanced techniques have facilitated the study of bat-insect interactions in the field, with 3D microphone arrays and 3D infrared videography revealing even more about how the real-world encounters between species are played out. There are likely to be many more secrets to this particular war that could advance the development of radar and sonar, and we are only just beginning to unearth them.

Chapter Contents:

  • 6.1 Introduction
  • 6.2 Bat biosonar
  • 6.2.1 Implementing the sonar equation
  • 6.2.2 Adaptive bat biosonar
  • 6.3 Prey defences
  • 6.3.1 Passive defences
  • Behavioural adaptations
  • Ultrasound absorption by wing scales
  • 6.3.2 Acoustic decoys
  • 6.3.3 Active defences and ear evolution in insects
  • Pressure receivers
  • Pressure difference receivers
  • Particle velocity receivers
  • 6.3.4 Active responses to ultrasound in moths
  • Evasive flight manoeuvres
  • Answering the call: ultrasound production
  • Startle the attacker
  • Sonar jamming
  • Acoustic aposematism
  • 6.3.5 Defences in other insects
  • Mantids
  • Crickets
  • Katydids
  • Beetles
  • Lacewings
  • 6.4 Bat countermeasure to insect defences
  • 6.4.1 Allotonic frequency hypothesis
  • 6.4.2 Stealth aerial hawking
  • 6.5 Conclusion
  • References

Inspec keywords: video recording; sonar; biological techniques; bioacoustics; zoology; hearing; microphone arrays; bio-inspired materials; mechanoception

Other keywords: 3D microphone arrays; bat-inspired harmonics; bat-insect interaction; sensory systems; insect hearing ability; Barbastella barbastellus; stealth echolocation; night-flying insect; evolutionary arms-race; radar development; sonar development; 3D infrared videography; radar performance; low-probability-of-intercept radar; bat echolocation call; biosonar arms-race

Subjects: Biophysical instrumentation and techniques; Audition; Mechano- and chemio-ceptions

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