Summary: An auditory orientation mechanism involving the emission of high frequency sounds which are reflected back to the emitter (animal).

Top Publications

  1. Yovel Y, Franz M, Stilz P, Schnitzler H. Plant classification from bat-like echolocation signals. PLoS Comput Biol. 2008;4:e1000032 pubmed publisher
    ..Thus, our findings provide a new explanatory basis for the poorly understood observed abilities of bats in classifying vegetation and other complex objects. ..
  2. De Mey F, Reijniers J, Peremans H, Otani M, Firzlaff U. Simulated head related transfer function of the phyllostomid bat Phyllostomus discolor. J Acoust Soc Am. 2008;124:2123-32 pubmed publisher
    ..This conclusion argues in favor of a series of recent simulation studies based on pinna morphology only [R. Muller, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 116, 3701-3712 (2004); Muller et al., ibid 119, 4083-4092 (2006)]. ..
  3. Brinkløv S, Kalko E, Surlykke A. Intense echolocation calls from two 'whispering' bats, Artibeus jamaicensis and Macrophyllum macrophyllum (Phyllostomidae). J Exp Biol. 2009;212:11-20 pubmed publisher
    Bats use echolocation to exploit a variety of habitats and food types...
  4. Au W, Branstetter B, Benoit Bird K, Kastelein R. Acoustic basis for fish prey discrimination by echolocating dolphins and porpoises. J Acoust Soc Am. 2009;126:460-7 pubmed publisher
    ..Most experiments have involved human-made targets; little is known about odontocetes' echolocation of prey...
  5. Taylor P, Stoffberg S, Monadjem A, Schoeman M, Bayliss J, Cotterill F. Four new bat species (Rhinolophus hildebrandtii complex) reflect Plio-Pleistocene divergence of dwarfs and giants across an Afromontane archipelago. PLoS ONE. 2012;7:e41744 pubmed publisher
    ..eloquens from East Africa. Speciation within Clade 1 is associated with fixed differences in echolocation call frequency, and cranial shape and size in populations isolated since the late Pliocene (ca 3.74 Mya)...
  6. Teeling E. Hear, hear: the convergent evolution of echolocation in bats?. Trends Ecol Evol. 2009;24:351-4 pubmed publisher
    The evolutionary history of laryngeal echolocation is controversial, and little is known about the molecular mechanisms that underlie this sense...
  7. Simmons N, Seymour K, Habersetzer J, Gunnell G. Primitive Early Eocene bat from Wyoming and the evolution of flight and echolocation. Nature. 2008;451:818-21 pubmed publisher
    ..The evolutionary pathways that led to flapping flight and echolocation in bats have been in dispute, and until now fossils have been of limited use in documenting transitions ..
  8. Ratcliffe J, Fullard J, Arthur B, Hoy R. Tiger moths and the threat of bats: decision-making based on the activity of a single sensory neuron. Biol Lett. 2009;5:368-71 pubmed publisher
    ..noctuoid moths have evolved simple ears that contain one to two auditory neurons and function to detect bat echolocation calls and initiate defensive flight behaviours...
  9. Kössl M, Voss C, Mora E, Macías S, Foeller E, Vater M. Auditory cortex of newborn bats is prewired for echolocation. Nat Commun. 2012;3:773 pubmed publisher
    ..Here we demonstrate that in the first postnatal week, before onset of echolocation and flight, dorsal auditory cortex already contains functional circuits that calculate distance from the ..

More Information


  1. Veselka N, McErlain D, Holdsworth D, Eger J, Chhem R, Mason M, et al. A bony connection signals laryngeal echolocation in bats. Nature. 2010;463:939-42 pubmed publisher
    b>Echolocation is an active form of orientation in which animals emit sounds and then listen to reflected echoes of those sounds to form images of their surroundings in their brains...
  2. Hagemann C, Vater M, Kössl M. Comparison of properties of cortical echo delay-tuning in the short-tailed fruit bat and the mustached bat. J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2011;197:605-13 pubmed publisher
    ..and the range of characteristic delays are similar in both species and hence are not related to different echolocation strategies. Most units respond at 2-6 ms echo delay with most sensitive thresholds of 20-30 dB SPL...
  3. Madsen P, de Soto N, Arranz P, Johnson M. Echolocation in Blainville's beaked whales (Mesoplodon densirostris). J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2013;199:451-69 pubmed publisher
    ..and movement recording tags to study how deep-diving Blainville's beaked whales (Mesoplodon densirostris) use echolocation to forage in their natural mesopelagic habitat...
  4. Knörnschild M, Jung K, Nagy M, Metz M, Kalko E. Bat echolocation calls facilitate social communication. Proc Biol Sci. 2012;279:4827-35 pubmed publisher
    Bat echolocation is primarily used for orientation and foraging but also holds great potential for social communication. The communicative function of echolocation calls is still largely unstudied, especially in the wild...
  5. Wiegrebe L. An autocorrelation model of bat sonar. Biol Cybern. 2008;98:587-95 pubmed publisher
  6. Armstrong K, Kerry L. Modelling the prey detection performance of Rhinonicteris aurantia (Chiroptera: Hipposideridae) in different atmospheric conditions discounts the notional role of relative humidity in adaptive evolution. J Theor Biol. 2011;278:44-54 pubmed publisher
    We examined a recent notion that differences in echolocation call frequency amongst geographic groups of constant frequency (CF)-emitting bats is the result of a trade-off between maximising prey detection range at lower frequencies and ..
  7. Jones B, Stanton T, Lavery A, Johnson M, Madsen P, Tyack P. Classification of broadband echoes from prey of a foraging Blainville's beaked whale. J Acoust Soc Am. 2008;123:1753-62 pubmed publisher
    Blainville's beaked whales (Mesoplodon densirostris) use broadband, ultrasonic echolocation signals with a -10 dB bandwidth from 26 to 51 kHz to search for, localize, and approach prey that generally consist of mid-water and deep-water ..
  8. Schwartz C, SMOTHERMAN M. Mapping vocalization-related immediate early gene expression in echolocating bats. Behav Brain Res. 2011;224:358-68 pubmed publisher
    ..bats rapidly and routinely manipulate the acoustic structure of their outgoing vocalizations to improve echolocation efficiency, reflecting cognitive rather than limbic control of the vocal motor pathways...
  9. Stoffberg S, Schoeman M, Matthee C. Correlated genetic and ecological diversification in a widespread southern African horseshoe bat. PLoS ONE. 2012;7:e31946 pubmed publisher
    ..Within South Africa, five genetically supported geographic groups exist and these groups are corroborated by echolocation and wing morphology data...
  10. Gotz T, Antunes R, Heinrich S. Echolocation clicks of free-ranging Chilean dolphins (Cephalorhynchus eutropia). J Acoust Soc Am. 2010;128:563-6 pubmed publisher
    In this paper, evidence is provided that Chilean dolphins (Cephalorhynchus eutropia) produce ultrasonic echolocation clicks of the narrow-band high-frequency category...
  11. Jakobsen L, Surlykke A. Vespertilionid bats control the width of their biosonar sound beam dynamically during prey pursuit. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010;107:13930-5 pubmed publisher
    ..We trained five Myotis daubentonii and one Eptesicus serotinus to capture tethered mealworms and recorded their echolocation signals with a multimicrophone array...
  12. Fenton M, Faure P, Ratcliffe J. Evolution of high duty cycle echolocation in bats. J Exp Biol. 2012;215:2935-44 pubmed publisher
    Duty cycle describes the relative 'on time' of a periodic signal. In bats, we argue that high duty cycle (HDC) echolocation was selected for and evolved from low duty cycle (LDC) echolocation because increasing call duty cycle enhanced ..
  13. Surlykke A, Ghose K, Moss C. Acoustic scanning of natural scenes by echolocation in the big brown bat, Eptesicus fuscus. J Exp Biol. 2009;212:1011-20 pubmed publisher
    b>Echolocation allows bats to orient and localize prey in complete darkness. The sonar beam of the big brown bat, Eptesicus fuscus, is directional but broad enough to provide audible echo information from within a 60-90 deg. cone...
  14. Yoshino H, Armstrong K, Izawa M, Yokoyama J, Kawata M. Genetic and acoustic population structuring in the Okinawa least horseshoe bat: are intercolony acoustic differences maintained by vertical maternal transmission?. Mol Ecol. 2008;17:4978-91 pubmed publisher
    The origin and meaning of echolocation call frequency variation within rhinolophid bats is not well understood despite an increasing number of allopatric and sympatric examples being documented...
  15. Hoffmann S, Baier L, Borina F, Schuller G, Wiegrebe L, Firzlaff U. Psychophysical and neurophysiological hearing thresholds in the bat Phyllostomus discolor. J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2008;194:39-47 pubmed
    ..The data suggest that P. discolor has considerably better absolute auditory thresholds than estimated previously. The psychophysical and neurophysiological data are compared to other phyllostomid bats and differences are discussed. ..
  16. Finneran J, Houser D, Moore P, Branstetter B, Trickey J, Ridgway S. A method to enable a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) to echolocate while out of water. J Acoust Soc Am. 2010;128:1483-9 pubmed publisher
    The study of site-specific brain activity associated with dolphin echolocation has been hampered by the difficulties inherent in administering radiolabels and performing medical imaging while a dolphin echolocates in an aquatic ..
  17. Finneran J. Dolphin "packet" use during long-range echolocation tasks. J Acoust Soc Am. 2013;133:1796-810 pubmed publisher
    ..However, previous studies have shown that during long-range echolocation tasks, they may instead emit a burst, or "packet," of several clicks, then wait for the packet of ..
  18. Orbach D, Fenton B. Vision impairs the abilities of bats to avoid colliding with stationary obstacles. PLoS ONE. 2010;5:e13912 pubmed publisher
    Free-flying insectivorous bats occasionally collide with stationary objects they should easily detect by echolocation and avoid...
  19. Chen S, Jones G, Rossiter S. Determinants of echolocation call frequency variation in the Formosan lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus monoceros). Proc Biol Sci. 2009;276:3901-9 pubmed publisher
    ..Horseshoe bats are characterized by echolocation calls dominated by a constant frequency component that is partly determined by maternal imprinting...
  20. Corcoran A, Barber J, Conner W. Tiger moth jams bat sonar. Science. 2009;325:325-7 pubmed publisher
    ..Sonar jamming extends the defensive repertoire available to prey in the long-standing evolutionary arms race between bats and insects. ..
  21. Matsuta N, Hiryu S, Fujioka E, Yamada Y, Riquimaroux H, Watanabe Y. Adaptive beam-width control of echolocation sounds by CF-FM bats, Rhinolophus ferrumequinum nippon, during prey-capture flight. J Exp Biol. 2013;216:1210-8 pubmed publisher
    The echolocation sounds of Japanese CF-FM bats (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum nippon) were measured while the bats pursued a moth (Goniocraspidum pryeri) in a flight chamber...
  22. Verfuss U, Miller L, Pilz P, Schnitzler H. Echolocation by two foraging harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena). J Exp Biol. 2009;212:823-34 pubmed publisher
    ..of two trained harbour porpoises searching for and capturing live fish were used to study swimming and echolocation behaviour. One animal repeated the tasks blindfolded...
  23. Jensen F, Rocco A, Mansur R, Smith B, Janik V, Madsen P. Clicking in shallow rivers: short-range echolocation of Irrawaddy and Ganges River dolphins in a shallow, acoustically complex habitat. PLoS ONE. 2013;8:e59284 pubmed publisher
    ..toothed whale species have evolved highly directional, high-amplitude ultrasonic clicks suited for long-range echolocation of prey in open water...
  24. DeRuiter S, Hansen M, Koopman H, Westgate A, Tyack P, Madsen P. Propagation of narrow-band-high-frequency clicks: measured and modeled transmission loss of porpoise-like clicks in porpoise habitats. J Acoust Soc Am. 2010;127:560-7 pubmed publisher
    ..Understanding the ranges at which they can use echolocation to detect and avoid obstacles is particularly important for strategies to reduce bycatch...
  25. Liu Y, Feng J, Metzner W. Different auditory feedback control for echolocation and communication in horseshoe bats. PLoS ONE. 2013;8:e62710 pubmed publisher
    Auditory feedback from the animal's own voice is essential during bat echolocation: to optimize signal detection, bats continuously adjust various call parameters in response to changing echo signals...
  26. Morisaka T, Karczmarski L, Akamatsu T, Sakai M, Dawson S, Thornton M. Echolocation signals of Heaviside's dolphins (Cephalorhynchus heavisidii). J Acoust Soc Am. 2011;129:449-57 pubmed publisher
    Field recordings of echolocation signals produced by Heaviside's dolphins (Cephalorhynchus heavisidii) were made off the coast of South Africa using a hydrophone array system...
  27. Baumann Pickering S, Yack T, Barlow J, Wiggins S, Hildebrand J. Baird's beaked whale echolocation signals. J Acoust Soc Am. 2013;133:4321-31 pubmed publisher
    b>Echolocation signals from Baird's beaked whales were recorded during visual and acoustic shipboard surveys of cetaceans in the California Current ecosystem and with autonomous, long-term recorders in the Southern California Bight...
  28. Kloepper L, Nachtigall P, Gisiner R, Breese M. Decreased echolocation performance following high-frequency hearing loss in the false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens). J Exp Biol. 2010;213:3717-22 pubmed publisher
    ..hearing in echolocating animals by demonstrating how high-frequency hearing assists in the functioning echolocation system...
  29. Bates M, Simmons J. Perception of echo delay is disrupted by small temporal misalignment of echo harmonics in bat sonar. J Exp Biol. 2011;214:394-401 pubmed publisher
    ..This virtual collapse of delay acuity may suppress interference from off-axis or distant clutter through degradation of delay images for clutter in contrast to sharp images for nearer, frontal targets. ..
  30. Monroy J, CARTER M, Miller K, Covey E. Development of echolocation and communication vocalizations in the big brown bat, Eptesicus fuscus. J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2011;197:459-67 pubmed publisher
    ..The goal of this study was to systematically characterize the development of echolocation and communication calls from birth through adulthood to determine whether they develop from a common precursor ..
  31. Surlykke A, Kalko E. Echolocating bats cry out loud to detect their prey. PLoS ONE. 2008;3:e2036 pubmed publisher
    ..Much research has demonstrated how time-frequency structure of echolocation calls of different species is adapted to acoustic constraints of habitats and foraging behaviors...
  32. Koblitz J, Wahlberg M, Stilz P, Madsen P, Beedholm K, Schnitzler H. Asymmetry and dynamics of a narrow sonar beam in an echolocating harbor porpoise. J Acoust Soc Am. 2012;131:2315-24 pubmed publisher
    ..To test that for a porpoise, echolocation clicks were recorded with high angular resolution using a 16 hydrophone array...
  33. Melcón M, Denzinger A, Schnitzler H. Aerial hawking and landing: approach behaviour in Natterer's bats, Myotis nattereri (Kuhl 1818). J Exp Biol. 2007;210:4457-64 pubmed
    We compared the flight and echolocation behaviour of a vespertilionid bat (Myotis nattereri) approaching a large stationary or a small moving target...
  34. Geisler J, Colbert M, Carew J. A new fossil species supports an early origin for toothed whale echolocation. Nature. 2014;508:383-6 pubmed publisher
    ..toothed whales, dolphins and porpoises) hunt and navigate through dark and turbid aquatic environments using echolocation; a key adaptation that relies on the same principles as sonar...
  35. Puechmaille S, Gouilh M, Piyapan P, Yokubol M, Mie K, Bates P, et al. The evolution of sensory divergence in the context of limited gene flow in the bumblebee bat. Nat Commun. 2011;2:573 pubmed publisher
    ..Here we show strong genetic differentiation, no gene flow and large echolocation differences between the allopatric Myanmar and Thai populations of the world's smallest mammal, Craseonycteris ..
  36. Eskesen I, Wahlberg M, Simon M, Larsen O. Comparison of echolocation clicks from geographically sympatric killer whales and long-finned pilot whales (L). J Acoust Soc Am. 2011;130:9-12 pubmed publisher
    ..A total of 137 pilot whale and more than 2000 killer whale echolocation clicks were recorded using a linear four-hydrophone array...
  37. Ibsen S, Au W, Nachtigall P, Breese M. Functional bandwidth of an echolocating Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). J Acoust Soc Am. 2009;125:1214-21 pubmed publisher
    The frequency band that an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) used to perform an echolocation target discrimination task was determined using computer simulated phantom targets...
  38. Koblitz J, Stilz P, Schnitzler H. Source levels of echolocation signals vary in correlation with wingbeat cycle in landing big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus). J Exp Biol. 2010;213:3263-8 pubmed publisher
    Recordings of the echolocation signals of landing big brown bats with a two-dimensional 16-microphone array revealed that the source level reduction of 7 dB per halving of distance is superimposed by a variation of up to 12 dB within ..
  39. Simmons N, Seymour K, Habersetzer J, Gunnell G. Inferring echolocation in ancient bats. Nature. 2010;466:E8; discussion E9 pubmed publisher
    Laryngeal echolocation, used by most living bats to form images of their surroundings and to detect and capture flying prey, is considered to be a key innovation for the evolutionary success of bats, and palaeontologists have long sought ..
  40. Firzlaff U, Schuller G. Cortical responses to object size-dependent spectral interference patterns in echolocating bats. Eur J Neurosci. 2007;26:2747-55 pubmed
    ..g., flowers or other objects independent of object size or echo amplitude. ..
  41. Wahlberg M, Beedholm K, Heerfordt A, Møhl B. Characteristics of biosonar signals from the northern bottlenose whale, Hyperoodon ampullatus. J Acoust Soc Am. 2011;130:3077-84 pubmed publisher
    ..These signals are distinct from the three other types of biosonar signals of toothed whales. It remains unclear why the signals show this grouping, and what consequences it has on echolocation performance.
  42. Genzel D, Wiegrebe L. Time-variant spectral peak and notch detection in echolocation-call sequences in bats. J Exp Biol. 2008;211:9-14 pubmed
    ..Here, we measured the detection thresholds for temporal variations in the spectral content of synthesized echolocation calls in the echolocating bat, Megaderma lyra...
  43. Yovel Y, Stilz P, Franz M, Boonman A, Schnitzler H. What a plant sounds like: the statistics of vegetation echoes as received by echolocating bats. PLoS Comput Biol. 2009;5:e1000429 pubmed publisher
    ..Finally, we complete the story by analyzing the effect of the sensory processing of both the echolocation and the auditory systems on the echoes and interpret them in the light of information maximization...
  44. Wisniewska D, Johnson M, Beedholm K, Wahlberg M, Madsen P. Acoustic gaze adjustments during active target selection in echolocating porpoises. J Exp Biol. 2012;215:4358-73 pubmed publisher
    ..Thereby they manage the massive sensory load from complex and noisy scenes. Echolocation, as an active sensory system, may provide more opportunities to control such information flow by adjusting the ..
  45. Brinkløv S, Jakobsen L, Ratcliffe J, Kalko E, Surlykke A. Echolocation call intensity and directionality in flying short-tailed fruit bats, Carollia perspicillata (Phyllostomidae). J Acoust Soc Am. 2011;129:427-35 pubmed publisher
    The directionality of bat echolocation calls defines the width of bats' sonar "view," while call intensity directly influences detection range since adequate sound energy must impinge upon objects to return audible echoes...
  46. Chiu C, Reddy P, Xian W, Krishnaprasad P, Moss C. Effects of competitive prey capture on flight behavior and sonar beam pattern in paired big brown bats, Eptesicus fuscus. J Exp Biol. 2010;213:3348-56 pubmed publisher
    ..This study provides a new perspective on how echolocating bats use their biosonar system to coordinate their flight with conspecifics in a group and how they compete for the same food source with conspecifics. ..
  47. Zimmer W, Harwood J, Tyack P, Johnson M, Madsen P. Passive acoustic detection of deep-diving beaked whales. J Acoust Soc Am. 2008;124:2823-32 pubmed publisher
    ..7 km, provided the listening duration exceeds the deep dive interval, about 2.5 h on average. Detection ranges beyond 4 km are unlikely and would require low ambient noise or special sound propagation conditions. ..
  48. Davies K, Bates P, Maryanto I, Cotton J, Rossiter S. The evolution of bat vestibular systems in the face of potential antagonistic selection pressures for flight and echolocation. PLoS ONE. 2013;8:e61998 pubmed publisher
    ..Second, many bats have enlarged cochleae associated with echolocation, and both cochleae and semicircular canals share a space within the petrosal bone...
  49. Santana S, Löfgren S. Does nasal echolocation influence the modularity of the mammal skull?. J Evol Biol. 2013;26:2520-6 pubmed publisher
    ..skull has been remodelled in rhinolophid bats due to the novel and critical function of the nasal cavity in echolocation. We predicted that nasal echolocation has resulted in the evolution of a third cranial module, the 'nasal dome',..
  50. Zhang G, Cowled C, Shi Z, Huang Z, Bishop Lilly K, Fang X, et al. Comparative analysis of bat genomes provides insight into the evolution of flight and immunity. Science. 2013;339:456-60 pubmed publisher
    ..Comparison of bat genomes with other mammalian species has provided new insights into bat biology and evolution. ..
  51. Holderied M, Korine C, Moritz T. Hemprich's long-eared bat (Otonycteris hemprichii) as a predator of scorpions: whispering echolocation, passive gleaning and prey selection. J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2011;197:425-33 pubmed publisher
    ..In this study, we describe how O. hemprichii catches and handles scorpions, quantify its flight and echolocation behaviour in the field, investigate what sensory modality it uses to detect scorpions, and test whether it ..
  52. Nachtigall P, Supin A. A false killer whale adjusts its hearing when it echolocates. J Exp Biol. 2008;211:1714-8 pubmed publisher
    ..While much has previously been learned about the echolocation performance and characteristics of the outgoing signals of echolocating dolphins and small whales, the hearing ..
  53. Tressler J, Schwartz C, Wellman P, Hughes S, Smotherman M. Regulation of bat echolocation pulse acoustics by striatal dopamine. J Exp Biol. 2011;214:3238-47 pubmed publisher
    The ability to control the bandwidth, amplitude and duration of echolocation pulses is a crucial aspect of echolocation performance but few details are known about the neural mechanisms underlying the control of these voice parameters in ..