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Bat Crisis: White-nose Syndrome
The Telegraph, September 13, 2010

Bats 'have regional accents'
Bats can be identified by their different regional dialects, researchers in Australia have discovered.

A team of scientists in Australiafound that the creatures develop dialects depending on where they live.

The information can help identify, assess and protect different species.

Scientists had long suspected bats had distinctive regional calls – as studies have shown with some other animals – but this was the first time it had been proven in the field.

Researchers took 4,000 bat calls and used a custom-made software program to develop identification keys for bat calls in different parts of New South Wales.

“We need to improve our ability to reliably distinguish between species that have commonly shared call features and we must increase the speed of call identification,” said Brad Law of the Forest Science Centre.

“The automation of bat call identification is seen as an essential development in the efficiency of this survey method and should ultimately fulfil both of these criteria.”

But the researchers said the development of automated identification keys for bat calls was in its infancy, and needed further investigation.

Bats use their calls to navigate and hunt using a process called echolocation in which high frequency ultrasounds, inaudible to humans, hit objects and echo back.

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2011

This article originally appeared here.

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton