Resource partitioning of sonar frequency bands in rhinolophoid bats

Klaus-Gerhard Heller
Otto v. Helversen

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In the Constant Frequency portions of the orientation calls of various Rhinolophus and Hipposideros species, the frequency with the strongest amplitude was studied comparatively. (1) In the five European species of the genus Rhinolophus call frequencies are either species-specific (R. ferrumequinum, R. blasii and R. euryale) or they overlap (R. hipposideros and R. mehelyi). The call frequency distributions are approximately 5–9 kHz wide, thus their ranges spead less than ±5% from the mean (Fig. 1). Frequency distributions are considerably narrower within smaller geographic areas. (2) As in other bat groups, call frequencies of the Rhinolophoidea are negatively correlated with body size (Fig. 3). Regression lines for the genera Rhinolophus and Rhinolophus, species from dryer climates have on the average higher call frequencies than species from tropical rain forests. (4) The Krau Game Reserve, a still largely intact rain forest area in Malaysia, harbours at least 12 syntopic Rhinolophus and Hipposiderso species. Their call frequencies lie between 40 and 200 kHz (Fig. 2). Distribution over the available frequency range is significantly more even than could be expected from chance alone. Two different null hypotheses to test for random character distribution were derived from frequency-size-relations and by sampling species assemblages from a species pool (Monte Carlo method); both were rejected. In particular, call frequencies lying close together are avoided (Figs. 4, 5). Conversely, the distribution of size ratios complied with a corresponding null hypothesis. This even distribution may be a consequence of resource partitioning with respect to prey type. Alternatively, the importance of these calls as social signals (e.g. recognition of conspecifics) might have necessitated a communication channel partitioning.