Echolocation and Communication
The echolocation system of bats evolved primarily for spatial orientation and foraging. In our research we investigate how important a role echolocation plays for communication. Furthermore, we look at the possible communicative function of high-frequency calls emitted by shrews.
Many animals use acoustic signals for recognizing species identity. So far it is known that most animals can distinguish their own species' signals from those of a different species. However, what was not known is whether any species can distinguish among acoustic signals of different sympatric species. In our experiments we showed that Rhinolophid bats are able to do so (Schuchmann & Siemers 2010).
Some species, like the Common noctule (Nyctalus noctula), find new roosts with the help of their conspecifics' echolocation calls. In behavioural experiments, tree holes broadcasting echolocation calls were found faster by the bats than mute holes (Ruczynski et al. 2009).