Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Deep-diving pilot whales make cheap, but powerful, echolocation clicks with 50 µL of air

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

Ilias Foskolos, Natacha Aguilar de Soto, Peter Teglberg Madsen, Mark Johnson

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Echolocating toothed whales produce powerful clicks pneumatically to detect prey in the deep sea where this long-range sensory channel makes them formidable top predators. However, air supplies for sound production compress with depth following Boyle’s law suggesting that deep-diving whales must use very small air volumes per echolocation click to facilitate continuous sensory flow in foraging dives. Here we test this hypothesis by analysing click-induced acoustic resonances in the nasal air sacs, recorded by biologging tags. Using 27000 clicks from 102 dives of 23 tagged pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus), we show that click production requires only 50 µL of air/click at 500 m depth increasing gradually to 100 µL at 1000 m. With such small air volumes, the metabolic cost of sound production is on the order of 40 J per dive which is a negligible fraction of the field metabolic rate. Nonetheless, whales must make frequent pauses in echolocation to recycle air between nasal sacs. Thus, frugal use of air and periodic recycling of very limited air volumes enable pilot whales, and likely other toothed whales, to echolocate cheaply and almost continuously throughout foraging dives, providing them with a strong sensory advantage in diverse aquatic habitats.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number15720
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2019

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by journal

  1. Scientific Reports (Journal)

    Matt Carter (Reviewer)

    2020

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  2. Scientific Reports (Journal)

    Manon Karin Schweinfurth (Member of editorial board)

    1 Aug 2019 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  3. Scientific Reports (Journal)

    Alan J. Stewart (Member of editorial board)

    Jun 2019 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  4. Scientific Reports (Journal)

    Matt Carter (Reviewer)

    2019

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  5. Scientific Reports (Journal)

    Monica Arso Civil (Reviewer)

    Jul 2018 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

Related by journal

  1. A dynamic role for dopamine receptors in the control of mammalian spinal networks

    Sharples, S. A., Burma, N. E., Borowska-Fielding, J., Kwok, C. H. T., Eaton, S. E. A., Baker, G. B., Jean-Xavier, C., Zhang, Y., Trang, T. & Whelan, P. J., 2 Oct 2020, In : Scientific Reports. 10, 23 p., 16429.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. A highly conserved complete accessory Escherichia coli type III secretion system 2 is widespread in bloodstream isolates of the ST69 lineage

    Fox, S., Goswami, C., Holden, M., Connolly, J. P. R., Mordue, J., O’Boyle, N., Roe, A., Connor, M., Leanord, A. & Evans, T. J., 5 Mar 2020, In : Scientific Reports. 10, 11 p., 4135.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. A large-scale estimate on the relationship between language and motor lateralization

    Packheiser, J., Schmitz, J., Arning, L., Beste, C., Güntürkün, O. & Ocklenburg, S., 3 Aug 2020, In : Scientific Reports. 10, 10 p., 13027.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. A retrospective cross-sectional study to determine chirality status of registered medicines in Tanzania

    Mwamwitwa, K. W., Kaibere, R. M., Fimbo, A. M., Sabitii, W., Ntinginya, N. E., Mmbaga, B. T., Shewiyo, D. H., Shearer, M. C., Smith, A. D. & Kaale, E. A., 20 Oct 2020, In : Scientific Reports. 10, 1, 11 p., 17834.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Accounting for detection unveils the intricacy of wild boar and rabbit co-occurrence patterns in a Mediterranean landscape

    Barros, A. L., Curveira-Santos, G., Marques, T. A. & Santos-Reis, M., 20 Apr 2020, In : Scientific Reports. 10, 9 p., 6651.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 262624813

Top