Analysis of acoustic elements and syntax in communication sounds emitted by mustached bats

Jagmeet S. Kanwal, Sumiko Matsumura, Kevin Ohlemiller, Nobuo Suga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

229 Scopus citations


Mustached bats, Pteronotus parnellii parnellii spend most of their lives in the dark and use their auditory system for acoustic communication as well as echolocation. The sound spectrograms of their communication sounds or “calls” revealed that this species produces a rich variety of calls. These calls consist of one or more of the 33 different types of discrete sounds or “syllables” that are emitted singly and/or in combination. These syllables can be further classified as 19 simple syllables, 14 composites, and three subsyllables. Simple syllables consist of characteristic geometric patterns of CF (constant frequency), FM (frequency modulation), and NB (noise burst) sounds that are defined quantitatively using statistical criteria. Composites consist of simple syllables or subsyllables conjoined without any silent interval. Most syllable types exhibit a large intrinsic variation in their physical structure compared to the stereotypic echolocation pulses. Syllable domains are defined on the basis of multiple parameters, although these can be collapsed onto three dimensions that capture 99% of the measured variation among different types of syllables. Temporal analysis of multisyllabic constructs reveals several syntactical rules for syllable transitions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1229-1254
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1994


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