Intra- and interspecific responses to Rafinesque’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus rafinesquii) social calls
Bats respond to the calls of conspecifics as well as to calls of other species; however, few studies have attempted to quantify these responses or understand the functions of these calls. We tested the response of Rafinesque’s big-eared bats (Corynorhinus rafinesquii) to social calls as a possible method to increase capture success and to understand the function of social calls. We also tested if calls of bats within the range of the previously designated subspecies differed, if the responses of Rafinesque’s big-eared bats varied with geographic origin of the calls, and if other species responded to the calls of C. rafinesquii. We recorded calls of Rafinesque’s big-eared bats at two colony roost sites in South Carolina, USA. Calls were recorded while bats were in the roosts and as they exited. Playback sequences for each site were created by copying typical pulses into the playback file. Two mist nets were placed approximately 50–500 m from known roost sites; the net with the playback equipment served as the Experimental net and the one without the equipment served as the Control net. Call structures differed significantly between the Mountain and Coastal Plains populations with calls from the Mountains being of higher frequency and longer duration. Ten of 11 Rafinesque’s big-eared bats were caught in the Control nets and, 13 of 19 bats of other species were captured at Experimental nets even though overall bat activity did not differ significantly between Control and Experimental nets. Our results suggest that Rafinesque’s big-eared bats are not attracted to conspecifics’ calls and that these calls may act as an intraspecific spacing mechanism during foraging.