Single-click beam patterns suggest dynamic changes to the field of view of echolocating Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) in the wild
Jensen, Frants H.
Johnson, Mark P.
Aguilar De Soto, Natacha
Madsen, Peter T.
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Echolocating animals exercise an extensive control over the spectral and temporal properties of their biosonar signals to facilitate perception of their actively generated auditory scene when homing in on prey. The intensity and directionality of the biosonar beam defines the field of view of echolocating animals by affecting the acoustic detection range and angular coverage. However, the spatial relationship between an echolocating predator and its prey changes rapidly, resulting in different biosonar requirements throughout prey pursuit and capture. Here we measured single click beam patterns using a parametric fit procedure to test whether free-ranging Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) modify their biosonar beamwidth. We recorded echolocation clicks using a linear array of receivers and estimated the beamwidth of individual clicks using a parametric spectral fit, cross-validated with well-established composite beam pattern estimates. The dolphins apparently increased the biosonar beamwidth, to a large degree without changing the signal frequency, when they approached the recording array. This is comparable to bats that also expand their field of view during prey capture, but achieve this by decreasing biosonar frequency. This behaviour may serve to decrease the risk that rapid escape movements of prey take them outside the biosonar beam of the predator. It is likely that shared sensory requirements have resulted in bats and toothed whales expanding their acoustic field of view at close range to increase the likelihood of successfully acquiring prey using echolocation, representing a case of convergent evolution of echolocation behaviour between these two taxa.
Author Posting. © The Company of Biologists, 2015. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Company of Biologists for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Experimental Biology (2015), doi:10.1242/jeb.116285.
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