The furrows of Rhinolophidae revisited
Faculty of Applied Economics
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Engineering sciences. Technology
Journal of the Royal Society interface: physical and life sciences. - London
, p. 1100-1103
University of Antwerp
Rhinolophidae, a family of echolocating bats, feature very baroque noseleaves that are assumed to shape their emission beam. Zhuang & Muller (Zhuang & Muller 2006 Phys. Rev. Lett. 97, 218701 (doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.97.218701); Zhuang & Muller 2007 Phys. Rev. E Stat. Nonlin. Soft Matter Phys. 76(Pt. 1), 051902 (doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.76.051902)) have proposed, based on finite element simulations, that the furrows present in the noseleaves of these bats act as resonance cavities. Using Rhinolophus rouxi as a model species, they reported that a resonance phenomenon causes the main beam to be elongated at a particular narrow frequency range. Virtually filling the furrows reduced the extent of the main lobe. However, the results of Zhuang & Muller are difficult to reconcile with the ecological background of R. rouxi. In this report, we replicate the study of Zhuang & Muller, and extend it in important ways: (i) we take the filtering of the moving pinnae into account, (ii) we use a model of the echolocation task faced by Rhinolophidae to estimate the effect of any alterations to the emission beam on the echolocation performance of the bat, and (iii) we validate our simulations using a physical mock-up of the morphology of R. rouxi. In contrast to Zhuang & Muller, we find the furrows to focus the emitted energy across the whole range of frequencies contained in the calls of R. rouxi (both in simulations and in measurements). Depending on the frequency, the focusing effect of the furrows has different consequences for the estimated echolocation performance. We argue that the furrows act to focus the beam in order to reduce the influence of clutter echoes.