Modelling mutual suppression of sonar in groups of bats

Meeting Abstract

107-1  Saturday, Jan. 7 13:30 – 13:45  Modelling mutual suppression of sonar in groups of bats ADAMS, AM*; POCOCK, J; SMOTHERMAN, M; Texas A&M University; Texas A&M University; Texas A&M University

How bats mitigate mutual interference is a longstanding question that has both ecological and technological implications as biosonar systems continue to outperform man-made sonar systems in noisy, cluttered environments. Groups of echolocating bats coordinate their biosonar through mutual suppression, slowing their pulse emission rates when flying in groups to reduce interference and improve sonar performance. We constructed a computational model of the Brazilian free-tailed bat’s (Tadarida brasiliensis) biosonar behavior that incorporates a flexible transmission delay algorithm to investigate how parameters might be optimized for groups of different sizes or while performing different tasks. This artificial back-off algorithm is a non-homogenous Poisson-based back-off algorithm that generates delays similar to those observed in bats hearing another bat’s pulse emissions. We compared our modeled results with the empirical measures of pairs and trios of T. brasiliensis flying together in a flight room and found that emission rates were context-dependent in a manner consistent with the hypothesis that the bat’s back-off algorithm may be adjustable based on group size, orientation, and task. This has significant implications for current technologies because the algorithms used in modern artificial devices (cell phones, wireless internet, etc.) lack the ability to adapt in real-time to network load and usage patterns. Decoding the bats social sonar algorithms may thus provide a biologically-inspired model of a fast, efficient and stable networking protocol that can improve emerging technologies and artificial communication networks protocols.

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