Spatial variation in the echolocation calls of the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus)

N. Veselka, L. P. McGuire, Y. A. Dzal, L. A. Hooton, M. B. Fenton

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Abstract

We studied spatial variation in echolocation call structure of the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus (LeConte, 1831)) by analysing calls recorded from free-flying individuals at 1 site in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, 1 site in Chautaqua, New York, and 20 sites along the Hudson River, New York. We controlled for factors that are often thought to lead to interspecific variation in echolocation calls (habitat, ontogeny, presence of conspecifics, recording techniques, ambient conditions), which allowed us to focus on the effect of spatial scale on call structure. As predicted, we found that at small scales (up to 1 km), there was significant geographic variation, likely owing to roost-specific signatures and group foraging activities. At intermediate scales (2-500 km), we found no differences in call structure, suggesting that populations within this area are part of a single hibernating and breeding population. Finally, echolocation call structure differed at the continental scale (>1000 km) likely because of little genetic exchange among sampled populations. Our results highlight the importance of considering the magnitude of spatial scale when examining variation in echolocation call structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)795-801
Number of pages7
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Volume91
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2013

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Keywords

  • Call structure
  • Echolocation
  • Geographic
  • Little brown bat
  • Myotis lucifugus
  • Spatial
  • Variation

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