Bats jamming bats: Food competition through sonar interference

bats research

Interesting article at Science Mag on a special call Bats do for interfere in their own sonars:

Communication signals are susceptible to interference (“jamming”) from conspecifics and other sources. Many active sensing animals, including bats and electric fish, alter the frequency of their emissions to avoid inadvertent jamming from conspecifics. We demonstrated that echolocating bats adaptively jam conspecifics during competitions for food. Three-dimensional flight path reconstructions and audio-video field recordings of foraging bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) revealed extended interactions in which bats emitted sinusoidal frequency-modulated ultrasonic signals that interfered with the echolocation of conspecifics attacking insect prey. Playbacks of the jamming call, but not of control sounds, caused bats to miss insect targets. This study demonstrates intraspecific food competition through active disruption of a competitor’s sensing during food acquisition.

A sound sample has been published on an article at Motherboard: