B i o l 111 S 2 01 6 H om e wor k 1- Du e M o nd a y, M a y 16

R e ad t he ar t ic l e be l o w. Be f or e yo u do , or af t er if yo u pr ef e r, wa t c h s om e
v id e os at t h es e l in ks . Tot al t im e o f a l l vi d eo s le ss t ha n 17 m in ut es …:
Great fundamentals on bats:
Great video on Bat sonar jamming:
Another animal using sonar:
One more animal using sonar:
2 minute clip of a torpedo’s sonar in the movie “Hunt for Red October” starring the
incomparable Sean Connery:
This last one is just 15 seconds!
h t t p s: / / www.yo ut ub e. co m / wat ch ?v = vr Z2 h NZ s Cu E

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Eavesdropping Moths Predict Bats Next move:
Deploy Countermeasures…
June 11th, 2013 8 minute read

trigona clicks. a live moth was clamped tight in a box with a microphone and made to panic. using ears just behind their wings. its powers of prediction were probed. but one which can keep them alive. This is the cheerful tiger moth is Idalus herois Tiger moths have a peculiar response to the presence of bats. when in fact—in bat terms—they may be delicious. It’s one of two weapons it uses to stymy a deadly predator: the big brown bat. Others species click to pretend they’re the same horrid tasting fare. . Through the panic. part of the Arctiidae family. are a diverse group of usually striking looking moths. The clicks—the reason for the microphone in the box— are made by an organ on their sides called a tymbal. isn’t psychic. and when. The moth. a message alerting bats that they taste icky or are poisonous: best find something else to munch on. Tiger moths.trigona especially. When they hear them approaching. But that’s not why B. if moths can truly be said to panic. For some species of tiger moth. It’s a cheat. animals respond to the threat of predators. The panicking. the moths’ hearing is the key. the clicks act as a warning. and B. may even tell us something more broadly about how. Instead. a species of tiger moth called Bertholdia trigona. the moths start making ultrasonic clicks.I n a North Carolina laboratory.

it’s hit by the moth’s secret weapon: a burst of ultrasonic clicks. This is the only known example of an animal that actively jams its attacker’s sonar. or to jam sonar? When danger reared its ugly head. you’re too close for comfort. It’s impressive. The threat you represent has grown too high to bear. But these moths don’t high-tail it the second a bat is nearby. it may live another day. instead they appear to do a kind of risk assessment. Think of approaching a bird or squirrel in the park. As the tiger moth goes about its business.500 per second. . he bravely turned his tail and fled…. The distance at which a prey species decides a threat is too high and scarpers is called the Flight Initiation Distance.trigona from the air. if any animal is too skittish and flees at the first sign of a predator. But then. but at a cost. you also have less time to eat. blurring its ‘acoustic image’. coming at around 4. doing moth stuff —like creating streetlight orbiting moth solar systems or flying needlessly into the open mouths of unsuspecting cyclists*—it listens for the shrieks of bats. Generally. or FID. As a bat readies itself to snatch B. This trade-off ultimately affects the animal’s fitness to survive and reproduce more than its peers. graze. At first they stay put—with an eye on you—as you approach (maybe you want to get a better look or have velvet dreams of telling stories about that time you petting a wild squirrel…). mate and forage. If you spend all your time running away. But at what point does B. The clicks are just the right frequency to screw up the bats ability to judge their target’s distance.B. not only do you expend valuable energy needlessly. The first step is detection. they whizz off in a cloud of acorns or feathers. you’ve exceeded their FID.trigona decide it’s time to deploy its countermeasures? How does any animal decide just when it’s time to respond to the threat of a predator? To run. to fight.trigona’s clicks are far more sophisticated than a warning. and so they get the hell out of there.

a predator that spotted you but continues walking at right angles to you in the distance is far less of a threat than one at the same distance galloping towards you. how close is refuge? How experienced is the animal? How fast is that predator moving? It may not be a straight line between increasing threat and distance that causes flight. with a microphone. and panicked it with simulated bat sounds. Department of Biology.The usual view of a squirrel when you get too close But distance isn’t necessarily the only factor that determines when something runs away. eyes fixed and salivating. So to find out how their hypothesis holds up. Aaron Corcoran and colleagues at the Wake Forest University. For any animal there may be a number of factors that may feed in to the FID. based on the stage of the attack. or react. and the prey will likely respond accordingly. or some defensive reaction. Banshees in the night . For example. Corcoran and colleagues gently clamped a moth into a sound chamber. in North Carolina had a hunch that an animal may choose to flee. The risk to a prey animal would rise sharply between detection and when a predator commits to an attack.

working out the distance more precisely. assessing the target. gathering more information. displaying its formidable moth munching maw. rapidly updating its ‘acoustic image’. Shrieks come 1-12 times a second as a bat scans its environment. If it commits. They shriek like a banshee in the night. . The hunt moves in stages. It will then ‘lock on’ to the target. separating and muting bony amplifiers—the hammer. directing its sonar at the target. the shrieks coming in pulses.’ The final flight path adjustments are made. anvil and stirrup. muscles contract in the bats middle ear as it calls. Bats are masters of the dark hunt. It begins an approach. it switches to ‘high-def’. calls coming faster still. they can home in on their prey’s distance and direction. were they not too high a frequency for us to hear. ramping up calls to 160 times a second: the ‘terminal buzz. and the target snatched out of thin air. There’s a final ID of the target. They do it they use a special talent: echolocation. It spots a potential victim and gradually increases the rate of calls.“Moffs! Get in my mowf!” – The big brown bat. and the decision to commit or break off the attack is made. And they can be loud—up to 120 dB—loud enough to damage human hearing. The muscles relax again as they listen for the returning sound. by measuring how long the echo takes to return. To protect their own hearing.

and terminal buzz. They didn’t think they’d been spotted.Trigona to find out at what stage of a bat’s attack the moths click. Each clip was a series of 2ms pulses followed by a short gap. Once the moths were safely clamped still. spoofing the different stages of a bats searching. they played them clips of ultrasonic sound. But when pulses mimicking a bat targeting or on the attack run were played. The clips also gradually got louder as they were played. a kind of moth FID. or were under attack. Different clips had different size gaps between pulses. and colleagues. some further apart. The bats’ very hunting strategy gave the game away. mimicking an approaching bat.Hunting in this way makes bats a formidable foe for any night flying insect. some closer together. decided to use B. repeated for ten seconds. even when they got louder. Moth in a box Bertholdia trigona in flight Corcoran. and responding accordingly. Sound pulses of a speed and intensity of a bat searching caused little reaction from the moths. for those with the ability to hear its shrieks they may as well be announcing their intentions with… well… a megaphone. the moth rapidly increased its rate of clicking. and only when a bat had ‘locked on’ did the moth react with its sonar jamming. The moths were working out when and if they’d been targeted. approaching. mimicking bats—like the big brown bat— that hunt them. . But while echolocation lets bats hunt in the dark.

Three-dimensional simulation of the sonar beam of a bat attacking a moth (left).A tethered moth in the lab. . is one thing. the number of clicks shot up. letting them film in the dark. and a spectrogram of the bat echolocation sequence with two-dimensional plots of the bat’s echolocation beam shape and direction relative to the target (right). When a bat selects a target. They knew a real from a ‘fake’ threat. Figure taken from Corcoran et al (see bottom of post) As in the lab. When moths heard targeting and attacking pulses. They used ultrasonic microphones to record the shrieks of the bats and the clicks of the moths. it directs its sonar towards it. so didn’t bother with countermeasures. the team headed into the field. The cameras were set up at a variety of different angles so they could later reconstruct the 3D flight patterns of bats and moths. as well as high speed infrared cameras. this increases the sound intensity on the target. strange though it is. they found that shortly after a bat found and targeted a moth. but is it representative of moths in the wild? To find out. they could tell someone else was the target. but no increase in intensity. But there was more. and only responded when they were threatened.

& Conner. 8 (5) DOI:10. and even to whom the attack is directed. (2013).trigona uses an impressive set of strategies to live another day.The moths really could predict a bats intention. A.. Bertholdia trigona from Wikipedia Clown Face Tiger Moth by Andreas Kay Scaredy Cat squirrel by Porsupah Ree .pone.. W. so yes. Ascher Big Brown Bat with scary teefs by Matt Reinbold. like spiralling crazily towards the ground. in search of the next cyclist’s mouth…. By predicting a bats intentions and jamming its sonar. Original bertholdia trigona by John S. *OK. Wagner. around 93% of bat attacks end in failure and B. maybe I have unresolved issues with moths from my cycling days… Reference Corcoran.trigona fluttering on happily. Optimal Predator Risk Assessment by the Sonar-Jamming Arctiine Moth Bertholdia trigona PLoS ONE. the actual distance may not be the deciding factor for taking evasive action.0063609 Image credits Main photo: Original Bat Photo by Jessica Nelson. B. This suggests that when a prey species can detect changes in a predators attack stage. coupled with some emergency moth acrobatics (no pun intended…). R.1371/journal.

3.Name_____________________________ Date_______________ Questions to answer. Use your own words. Do bats evolve because of moths? Do moths evolve because of bats? Which evolved first? Explain the relationship between Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection and the moths and bats described in the article. look it up on Wikipedia or another source. The central concept I am attempting to highlight by assigning this article is the concept of an “evolutionary arms race”. Type your answers into the document if you wish. . Describe how bats are adapted to hunt moths. What is an arms race. 5. and what is an evolutionary arms race? 2. Describe the laboratory experiment outlined in the paper. and cite any sources you use. Give 2 examples of echolocation not described in the article. and how does it relate to how the moths described in the article defend themselves against Big Brown Bats? 6. What is echolocation? If you don’t know. 4. 1. but there’s no need to print the rest of the article when you hand in your work. Can you identify a hypothesis being tested? What was the independent variable? The dependent variable? 7. What is an FID. Use complete sentences. The article discusses several adaptations different species of moth use to avoid being eaten by bats.