Frog-Eating Bats Use Ripples in the Water to Hunt Tungara Frogs

Posted on January 25, 2014

Frog eating bat catches Tungara frog

Frog-eating bats (also known as the fringe-lipped bat) monitor sound as well as ripples in the water to hunt frogs. Male Tungara frogs make calls that create ripples in the water when they are trying to find mates. Bats can perceive the ripples using echolocation. Here is a video of a Tungara frog call generating the risky water ripples:

The frogs do stop making ripples when they see a predator bat, but unfortunately for the frogs the ripples don't stop immediately and the bats can still find them.

Researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), the University of Leiden, the University of Texas at Austin and Salisbury University in Maryland studied the bats using models and speakers placed in the water. They found bats preferred to attack models making calls with ripples compared to calls alone.

Rachel Page, a STRI staff scientist, says in a release, "When a bat flies by, the frog's first line of defense is to stop calling. But the water ripples continue for another few seconds, effectively leaving a detection footprint for the approaching bat. This study shows how important it is to look at the full picture - perception not only of signals but also of their by-products by different receivers through different sensory channels can generate both costs and benefits."

Take a look:

Photo: Christian Ziegler

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