This activity guides the analysis of a published scientific figure from a study that tested how bats use echolocation to adjust their hunting behavior.
During echolocation, bats emit ultrasonic sound waves and analyze the returning echoes. After a bat detects prey, it emits a rapid sequence of echolocation signals called the buzz phase. In this study, scientists observed bats hunting to determine the role of the buzz phase in capturing prey. The figure shows the bats’ behaviors as spectrograms (graphs of their echolocation signals) and video snapshots in two panels: one with the bat successfully capturing prey (Panel A), and one with the bat chasing prey that is then removed by the scientists (Panel D).
The “Educator Materials” document includes a captioned figure, background information, graph interpretation, and discussion questions. The “Student Handout” includes a captioned figure and background information.
Student Learning Targets
- Analyze and interpret data from a scientific figure.
- Interpret observations of physical and acoustic animal behaviors.
frequency, prey capture, reaction time, sonar, sound wave, spectrogram
Geberl, Cornelia, Signe Brinkløv, Lutz Wiegrebe, and Annemarie Surlykke. “Fast sensory-motor reactions in echolocating bats to sudden changes during the final buzz and prey intercept.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112, 13 (2015): 4122–4127. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1424457112.
Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
HS-LS2-2, HS-PS4-5; SEP2, SEP4, SEP5
AP Biology (2019)
ENE-4.B; SP1, SP4
IB Biology (2016)
AP Environmental Science (2020)
Learning Objectives & Practices: ERT-1.A, SP2, SP4
IB Environmental Systems and Societies (2017)
Common Core (2010)
Math.S-ID.3, Math.S-IC.1; MP2, MP5
Vision and Change (2009)
CC5; DP2, DP3