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Kugler, Kathrin; Luksch, Harald; Peremans, Herbert; Vanderelst, Dieter; Wiegrebe, Lutz ORCID: 0000-0002-9289-6187; Firzlaff, Uwe (6. February 2019): Echo-acoustic and optic flow interact in bats. In: Journal of Experimental Biology
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Echolocating bats are known to fly and forage in complete darkness using the echoes of their actively emitted calls to navigate and to detect prey. However, under dim light conditions many bats can also rely on vision. Many flying animals have been shown to navigate by optic flow information, and recently, bats were shown to exploit echo-acoustic flow to navigate through dark habitats. Here we show for the bat Phyllostomus discolor that in lighted habitats where self-motion induced optic flow is strong, optic and echo-acoustic flow interact in their efficiency to guide navigation. Echo-acoustic flow showed a surprisingly strong effect compared to optic flow. We thus demonstrate multimodal interaction between two far-ranging spatial senses, vision and echolocation, available in this combination almost exclusively for bats and toothed whales. Our results highlight the importance of merging information from different sensory systems in a sensory-specialist animal to successfully navigate and hunt under difficult conditions.