Meeting Abstract

36.4  Monday, Jan. 5  Sound Strategies: Acoustic Aposematism, Mimicry, and Sonar Jamming in the Bat-Moth Arms Race. CORCORAN, Aaron/J.; BARBER, Jesse/R.; CULLEN, Megan/A.; CONNER, William/E.*; Wake Forest University; Colorado State University; Wake Forest University; Wake Forest University conner@wfu.edu

Moths have long engaged in an evolutionary arms race to avoid capture by bats. Tiger moths (Lepidoptera: Arctiiidae) are unique among moths in that they answer the echolocation cries of bats with high-frequency clicks. In the past we have provided evidence that many tiger moths use these sounds to advertise their unpalatability to bats and that others gain an advantage by mimicking the sound of the advertisers. We now investigate the ability of the sound-producing tiger moth Bertholdia trigona to jam the sonar of the FM big brown bat, Eptesicus fuscus. Four bats (3 nae and 1 experienced forager) were presented a sequence of 16 tethered moths including 4 sound-producing B. trigona and 12 control moths for each of 7 consecutive nights followed by 2 nights when silenced B. trigona were substituted for sound-producing B. trigona. We observed and recorded the interactions using high-speed infrared sensitive video cameras and an ultrasonic microphone. The results suggest that big brown bats avoid catching sound-producing B. trigona despite the fact that they are reasonably palatable. Our results are discussed in light of two non-mutually exclusive hypotheses about the function of the tiger moth-produced sounds.