Negligible energetic cost of sonar jamming in a bat–moth interaction

A. J. Corcoran, H. A. Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Energetic cost can constrain how frequently animals exhibit behaviors. The energetic cost of acoustic signaling for communication has been the subject of numerous studies; however, the cost of acoustic signaling for predator defense has not been addressed. We studied the energetic cost and efficiency of sound production for the clicks produced by the moth Bertholdia trigona (Grote, 1879) (Grote’s bertholdia) to jam the sonar of predatory bats. This moth is an excellent model species because of its extraordinary ability to produce sound—it clicks at the highest known rate of any moth, up to 4500 clicks·s–1.Wemeasured the metabolic cost of clicking, resting, and flying from moths suspended in a respirometry chamber. Clicking was provoked by playing back an echolocation attack sequence. The cost of sound production for B. trigona was low (66% of resting metabolic rate) and the acoustic efficiency, or the percentage of metabolic power that is converted into sound, was moderately high (0.30% ± 0.15%) compared with other species. We discuss mechanisms that allow B. trigona to achieve their extraordinary clicking rates and high acoustic efficiency. Clicking for jamming bat sonar incurs negligible energetic cost to moths despite being the most effective known anti-bat defense. These results have implications for both the ecology of predator–prey interactions and the evolution of jamming signals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-335
Number of pages5
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 30 2015


  • Bertholdia trigona
  • Bioacoustics
  • Energetics
  • Grote’s bertholdia
  • Predator–prey
  • Sonar jamming
  • Sound production


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