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Active echolocation beam focusing in the false killer whale, Pseudorca crassidens
Laura N. Kloepper, Paul E. Nachtigall, Megan J. Donahue, Marlee Breese


The odontocete sound production system is highly complex and produces intense, directional signals that are thought to be focused by the melon and the air sacs. Because odontocete echolocation signals are variable and the emitted click frequency greatly affects the echolocation beam shape, investigations of beam focusing must account for frequency-related beam changes. In this study we tested whether the echolocation beam of a false killer whale changed depending on target difficulty and distance while also accounting for frequency-related changes in the echolocation beam. The data indicate that the false killer whale changes its beam size according to target distance and difficulty, which may be a strategy of maximizing the energy of the target echo. We propose that the animal is using a strategy of changing the focal region according to target distance and that this strategy is under active control.



    This research project was supported by the Office of Naval Research (grant NOO14-08-1-1160 to P.E.N.).

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