A growing body of research suggests that songs are an important part of the courtship behavior of many bat species, however there is little information on the basic characteristics of these vocalizations, or how they may function as a courtship signal. Lekking male lesser short-tailed bats (Mystacina tuberculata) appear to use vocal displays as a primary method for attracting mates, but it is unclear if these vocalizations constitute songs, and what characteristics females may use for mate selection. We recorded 16 lekking males and described the frequency and temporal properties of their vocalizations. We identified four notes (upsweeps, downsweeps, trills, and tones) that comprise courtship vocalizations, and males produced these notes either singly, or combined them linearly to form composite syllables. We classified 51 distinct syllable types (with an average of 29 types per male), with four (trills, upsweep-trills, trill-downsweeps, and upsweep-trill-downsweeps) comprising 69% of all syllables pro- duced. The duration of trill-downsweeps scaled negatively with forearm length (a proxy for body size in bats), and all four main syllable types showed evidence of individuality. Based on the behavioral characteristics and contexts of these courtship vocal- izations, we posit that this behavior constitutes singing. Furthermore, M. tuberculata potentially has
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 6, 2018
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