Singing strategies are linked to perch use on foraging territories in heart-nosed bats

Grace C. Smarsh*, Ashley M. Long, Michael Smotherman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Acoustic communication allows animals to coordinate and optimize resource utilization in space. Cardioderma cor, the heart-nosed bat, is one of the few species of bats known to sing during nighttime foraging. Previous research found that heart-nosed bats react aggressively to song playback, supporting the territorial defense hypothesis of singing in this species. We further investigated the territorial defense hypothesis from an ecological standpoint, which predicts that singing should be associated with exclusive areas containing a resource, by tracking 14 individuals nightly during the dry seasons in Tanzania. We quantified the singing behavior of individuals at all perches used throughout the night. Using home range analysis tools, we quantified overall use, night ranges and singing ranges, as well as areas used in early and later time periods at night. Males sang back and forth from small ((Formula presented.) = 3.48 ± 2.71 ha), largely exclusive areas that overlapped with overall night ranges used for gleaning prey. Individuals varied in singing effort; however, all sang significantly more as night progressed. Subsequently, areas used earlier at night and overall use areas were both larger than singing areas. Individuals varied in singing strategies. Some males sang for long periods in particular trees and had smaller core areas, while others moved frequently among singing trees. The most prolific singers used more perches overall. Our results support the hypothesis that acoustic communication repertoires evolved in support of stable foraging territory advertisement and defense in some bats.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere8519
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardioderma cor
  • foraging strategy
  • heart-nosed bat
  • singing
  • social behavior
  • space use
  • territoriality


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