Previous studies of the spotted bat Euderma maculatum have demonstrated that this bat emits echolocation calls that are lower in frequency, shorter in duration and fainter in intensity compared with those of most other insectivorous bats, acoustic characteristics which should render it less conspicuous to eared moths. We tested this prediction by monitoring electrophysiologically the ears of sympatric noctuoid (noctuid, arctiid and notodontid) moths in a site in western Canada. Auditory threshold curves demonstrate that most of the moths tested are less responsive to the calls of Eu. maculatum than to those of another sympatric bat, Eptesicus fuscus. Playbacks to moth ears of pre-recorded search- and approach-phase echolocation calls of Eu. maculatum and Ep. fuscus further demonstrate that the calls of Eu. maculatum are poorly detectable to moths and, in some cases, completely inaudible. We estimate that, in the wild, an average noctuoid moth would detect the calls of Eu. maculatum at distances of less than 1 m as opposed to the calls of Ep fuscus which should be first heard at distances of 20-25 m. Although most moths are unable to adequately hear Eu maculatum, the observation that two individuals possessed ears sensitive to this bat's calls suggests the existence of auditory pre-adaptation to this type of echolocation.

auditory threshold curves, echolocation, Euderma maculatum, noctuoid moths, spotted bat
Journal of Experimental Biology
Department of Biology

Fullard, J.H. (James H.), & Dawson, J.W. (1997). The echolocation calls of the spotted bat Euderma maculatum are relatively inaudible to moths. Journal of Experimental Biology, 200(1), 129–137.