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Ecological impacts

Prey detection capacity

J. R. Soc. Interface (2013)

Climate change is widely observed to influence the spatial distribution and life-cycle timing (phenology) of plants and animals. However, the mechanisms that drive species' responses to climate are many and varied and often remain unclear, making the prediction of climate change impacts problematic.

By modelling the relationship between environmental temperature and the prey detection capacity of bats' echolocating apparatus, Jinhong Luo, from the Max Plank Institute for Ornithology, and co-workers have uncovered one such mechanism. Their analysis shows that as temperatures rise the prey detection range of bats either decreases or increases, depending on call frequency. Species emitting lower frequencies gain in their prey detection range, whereas it's reduced for those emitting higher frequencies. This relationship suggests that climate change could alter community composition by directly affecting the prey detection ability of individual bats with knock-on effects on their interactions with competitor species and prey.


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Brown, A. Prey detection capacity. Nature Clim Change 4, 10 (2014).

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