Bats

Singing silver-haired bats (Lasionycteris noctivagans)

Lausen, C. et al.


Abstract

Characterizing sounds produced by animals can lead to better understanding of their behavioral ecology and conservation. While considerable focus has been on signals used by bats for echolocation, there has been less emphasis on nonecholocation sounds.

We describe songs (i.e., acoustic vocalizations with distinctive syllable types in series or in complex motifs) produced by silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans). Songs, characterized by a sequence (song phrase) of 3 distinct vocalization types, were confirmed by observing free-flying, silver-haired bats at mine hibernacula in British Columbia, Canada. The song patterns were relatively consistent with each song phrase consisting of a lead call, followed by a droplet call, and finishing with a series of multiple chirp calls. The function of the songs is unknown, however, as other bat species produce songs for mating, we propose silver-haired bat songs may similarly be associated with courtship or mating. Alternative functions cannot be ruled out, particularly because we recorded some songs outside of the accepted mating period. Other research has determined peak mating of silver-haired bats occurs in fall, and spring mating has been documented. Here we additionally provide evidence of winter mating in British Columbia.

The proportion of silver-haired bat songs recorded relative to echolocation recordings varied across locations and seasons. While we recorded songs in all months of the year, more than half of the songs were produced during winter, and 93.4% (of 1,857) were produced outside of summer months. Song production in summer could be associated with other behaviors such as learning or practice, establishing or maintaining social bonds, or male-male competition. To provide landscape and temporal context, we summarize acoustic datasets from numerous locations in western North America where recordings were made between 2005 and 2022.

Recommended citation

Lausen, C. et al. (2023). Singing silver-haired bats (Lasionycteris noctivagans). Wildlife Society Bulletin. https://doi.org/10.1002/wsb.1500

Cori Lausen

Cori Lausen

Director of Bat Conservation

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