My research on bats has focused on various aspects of echolocation behavior, for example, studying how bats change their sounds as their environment changes, how they use the information in the returning echoes, and how bats might use the information in the calls to communicate with one another. My Ph.D. research focused on the last question, but we ran into the problem that it is difficult to get the bats to tell us what a particular sound "means". Since echolocation calls serve a vital purpose in navigation and capturing prey, it is quite possible that they have no relation to communication at all. However, the use of echolocation requires sending out loud sounds that other animals can hear, so it also makes sense that bats might take advantage of the information in those calls to determine something about the bat that produced a particular sound. Much of my research in graduate school looked at various ways of analyzing bat echolocation calls to measure variables describing each call. We could then examine those variables to see what information was present in the calls. These analysis showed that related bats produce calls that are more similar than the calls of un-related bats. Other studies have shown that males and females sound different as well. There are a wide variety of questions that we can ask about bats and their echolocation, so there is no shortage of things to study!
Click on the links below (or use the tabs above) to go to pages dealing with specific aspects of my bat research