Bats may exhibit plasticity in echolocation pulses as response to intrinsic and extrinsic factors, and the estimation of the magnitude of such variation can provide confidence in acoustic monitoring. Myotis nigricans (Schinz, 1821) is a widely distributed but relatively understudied Neotropical species for which, during fieldwork, we found maternity colonies in the Lagunas de Montebello National Park, in Chiapas, South-east Mexico, and no previous information in the area. Therefore, we aimed to provide an acoustic characterization on the basis of intraspecific variability for its recognition using bat detectors. For this purpose, we examined the moulding of shape, frequency-based and time-based acoustic parameters, specifically by the effect of age group (sub-adults vs. adults) and acoustic environment (open space vs. background vegetation). By graphic comparison of echolocation pulses between acoustic environments, we observed changes in shape by an increase in bandwidth and steeper modulation along background vegetation. Statistically, on univariate basis, we did not find a significant effect of age group, but we did of acoustic environment, specifically on highest frequency (higher average), duration (shorter average) and interpulse interval (shorter average) along background vegetation. On multivariate basis, we confirmed shorter average interpulse interval along background vegetation. The overall classification accuracy was relatively high (82.22%): 80% in open space and 84% along background vegetation. Our work reinforces previous knowledge about sound constraints imposed by vegetation clutter, and provides a reliable framework for acoustic monitoring of this species across structurally variable, and hence acoustically variable, environments in the area.
Bats, bioacoustics, foraging, monitoring, plasticity