Anti-predator strategies

Anti-predator strategies

Many adaptations evolved in prey animals in response to predation threat, such as mimicry to trick the visual system, spines to mechanically prevent predation, or behavioural adaptations. A common anti-predator behaviour is unpredictable movement, so called protean behaviour.

The bat-moth interaction is a classic example to study this kind of behaviour. With their ultrasound sensitive ears, many moth species can detect the echolocation calls of insectivorous bats. Upon detecting a bat, they elicit evasive flight manoeuvres to escape the attacker. The simplicity of the auditory system of moths and the fact that this predator-prey interaction is purely based on sound, make bats and moths a great model system for studying the function, ecology and evolution of auditory-guided behaviour.

The aim of this project is to study the escape flight of moths as the predator-selected phenotype, and link it to the neurobiology, additional anti-predator strategies, and ecology of moth species; and to the predation strategies of echolocating bats.

Force-transducer setup for automatically presenting sounds to flying tethered moths and recording their flight behaviour.
3D flight trajectory of escaping moth (left) and several flight trajectory parameters over time describing escape behaviour (right).
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