This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Use of Ultrasound for Communication by the Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus)




Grilliot, Matthew

Type of Degree



Biological Sciences


Communication signals are important regulators of mating behavior in many animals. Various pre- and post-copulatory mechanisms have been suggested to play a role in the reproductive success and mating strategies of many mammals. Recent studies have cited sperm competition as a possible post-copulatory mechanism of selection in bats, but few studies have examined which pre-copulatory mechanisms influence mate selection. Although it is generally accepted that bats emit vocalizations that function for communication purposes as well as the more universally recognized echolocation function, there is lack of actual empirical support for this idea. In this dissertation, I test the hypothesis that ultrasonic vocalizations of big brown bats are sexually dimorphic and differ contextually in the mating season. I used playback experiments to test the response of male and female big brown bats to variations in ultrasonic vocalizations of the opposite sex and to determine if ultrasonic vocalizations are used for mate selection. My data suggest that males were likely to select ultrasonic vocalization of frequently copulating females, but females did not select ultrasonic vocalizations of frequently copulating males over infrequently copulating males. These results suggest that mate selection of male big brown bats is influenced by ultrasonic vocalizations of females.