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News Picks : Bats may extend hunting range by listening to other bats

By: Physics Today
Fri Jan 09 14:00:00 UTC 2015
New Scientist: Bats use echolocation to find food, but their biological sonar can travel only over a limited distance. At least one bat species may have found a way to overcome that distance limitation by eavesdropping on other bats, according to a new study by Yossi Yovel from Tel Aviv University in Israel and colleagues. Because bats are so difficult to study in the wild, the researchers developed a novel system that uses GPS, ultrasonic recorders, and the smallest trackers available. They studied the greater mouse-tailed bat species and found that the bats intentionally band together when they hunt and that by honing in on each other’s signals, they can extend their hunting range from around 10 meters up to about 160 meters. However, there is a limit to how many bats can hunt together in a given area—if there are too many, they run the risk of colliding with each other. The researchers are now expanding their study to look at five other bat species to see whether they exhibit similar social foraging behavior.

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