Published Research Article
CS major, Victor Kuc, has conducted research and published a research article describing this research.
Bats have remarkable echolocation capabilities to detect prey in darkness. While it is clear how bats do this for prey that is isolated, moving, or noisy, their ability to find still and quiet prey within clutter has remained a mystery. A video published by the ChiRoPing group shows the gleaning batMicronycteris microtis capturing a still dragonfly specimen sitting on a leaf surface. While hovering over the dragonfly, the bat’s wings exert air forces that cause the dragonfly wings to deflect in synchrony with the bat’s wing beats. This paper illustrates that echoes from such deflecting wings vary in both amplitude and time-of-flight, producing robust echo cues that permit prey detection, even when the prey is embedded within clutter. Experiments with a dragonfly specimen mounted on a leaf driven by periodic air puffs produced wing deflections that were sensed with sonar pulses. Results demonstrate that echo variations synchronized with periodic air puffs are easily distinguishable from surrounding clutter, even when clutter produces the first echoes. These results suggest a strategy that bats can employ to detect still and silent prey embedded within cluttered environments.