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Goerlitz, Holger R.; Genzel, Daria; Wiegrebe, Lutz ORCID: 0000-0002-9289-6187 (2012): Bats' avoidance of real and virtual objects: Implications for the sonar coding of object size. In: Behavioural Processes, Vol. 89, No. 1: pp. 61-67
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Abstract

Fast movement in complex environments requires the controlled evasion of obstacles. Sonar-based obstacle evasion involves analysing the acoustic features of object-echoes (e.g., echo amplitude) that correlate with this object's physical features (e.g., object size). Here, we investigated sonar-based obstacle evasion in bats emerging in groups from their day roost. Using video-recordings, we first show that the bats evaded a small real object (ultrasonic loudspeaker) despite the familiar flight situation. Secondly, we studied the sonar coding of object size by adding a larger virtual object. The virtual object echo was generated by real-time convolution of the bats' calls with the acoustic impulse response of a large spherical disc and played from the loudspeaker. Contrary to the real object, the virtual object did not elicit evasive flight, despite the spectro-temporal similarity of real and virtual object echoes. Yet, their spatial echo features differ: virtual object echoes lack the spread of angles of incidence from which the echoes of large objects arrive at a bat's ears (sonar aperture). We hypothesise that this mismatch of spectro-temporal and spatial echo features caused the lack of virtual object evasion and suggest that the sonar aperture of object echoscapes contributes to the sonar coding of object size. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.