Visual detection threshold in the echolocating Daubenton's bat (Myotis daubentonii)

Clément Céchetto, Lasse Jakobsen, Eric J. Warrant

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


All bats possess eyes that are of adaptive value. Echolocating bats have retinae dominated by rod photoreceptors and use dim light vision for navigation, and in rare cases for hunting. However, the visual detection threshold of insectivorous echolocating bats remains unknown. Here, we determined this threshold for the vespertilionid bat Myotis daubentonii. We show that for a green luminous target, M. daubentonii has a visual luminance threshold of 3.2(±0.9)×10 −4 cd m −2, an intensity corresponding to the luminance of an open cloudless terrestrial habitat on a starlit night. Our results show that echolocating bats have good visual sensitivity, allowing them to see during their active periods. Together with previous results showing that M. daubentonii has poor visual acuity (∼0.6 cycles deg −1), this suggests that echolocating bats do not use vision to hunt but rather to orient themselves.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberjeb244451
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15. Jan 2023


  • Absolute sensitivity
  • Bat vision
  • Behaviour
  • Nocturnal vision
  • Psychophysics


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