Pregnancy-related sensory deficits might impair foraging in echolocating bats

Mor Taub*, Omer Mazar, Yossi Yovel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Reproduction entails substantial demands throughout its distinct stages. The mammalian gestation period imposes various energetic costs and movement deficits, but its effects on the sensory system are poorly understood. Bats rely heavily on active sensing, using echolocation to forage in complete darkness, or when lighting is uncertain. We examined the effects of pregnancy on bat echolocation. Results: We show that pregnant Kuhl’s pipistrelles (Pipistrellus kuhlii) altered their echolocation and flight behavior. Specifically, pregnant bats emitted longer echolocation signals at an ~ 15% lower rate, while flying more slowly and at a lower altitude compared to post-lactating females. A sensorimotor foraging model suggests that these changes could lead to an ~ 15% reduction in hunting performance during pregnancy. Conclusions: Sensory deficits related to pregnancy could impair foraging in echolocating bats. Our study demonstrates an additional cost of reproduction of possible relevance to other sensory modalities and organisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number60
JournalBMC Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Echolocation
  • Movement
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproduction
  • Sensing


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