PerspectiveEcology

The World Through a Bat's Ear

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Science  29 Jul 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6042, pp. 528-529
DOI: 10.1126/science.1209933

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Summary

Most bats use echoes of sounds they produce to locate objects in their path. Echoes from the leaves of some plants are potential distractions (clutter) for echolocating bats as they search for flying insect prey. However, in other situations, echoes from specialized leaves are beacons that guide bats to flowers bearing nectar and pollen. Two reports in this issue—by Simon et al. (1) on page 631 and Bates et al. (2) on page 627—substantially advance our knowledge about how echolocating bats suppress or exploit echoes as they navigate, forage, or hunt in various environments.