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Bat Pass Duration Measurement: An Indirect Measure of Distance of Detection

Kerbiriou, Christian, Bas, Yves, Le Viol, Isabelle, Lorrillière, Romain, Mougnot, Justine, Julien, Jean-François
Diversity 2019 v.11 no.3
Chiroptera, acoustics, data collection, flight, microphones, models, ultrasonics
Few reports have been published on detection distances of bat calls because the evaluation of detection distance is complicated. Several of the approaches used to measure detection distances are based on the researcher’s experience and judgment. More recently, multiple microphones have been used to model flight path. In this study, the validity of a low-cost and simple detectability metric was tested. We hypothesize that the duration of an echolocating-bat-pass within the area of an ultrasonic bat detector is correlated with the distance of detection. Two independent datasets from a large-scale acoustic bat survey—a total of 25,786 bat-passes from 20 taxa (18 species and two genera)—were measured. We found a strong relationship between these measures of bat-pass duration and published detection distances. The advantages of bat-pass duration measures are that, for each study, experimenters easily produce their own proxy for the distance of detection. This indirect measure of the distance of detection could be mobilized to monitor the loss in microphone sensitivity used to monitor long-term population trends. Finally, the possibility of producing an index for distance of detection provides a weight for each bat species’ activity when they are aggregated to produce a bat community metric, such as the widely used “total activity”.