Acoustic emissions of Sorex unguiculatus (Mammalia: Soricidae): Assessing the echo-based orientation hypothesis

Lida Sanchez, Satoshi D. Ohdachi, Atsushi Kawahara, Lazaro M. Echenique-Diaz, Shinichiro Maruyama, Masakado Kawata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Shrew species have been proposed to utilize an echo-based orientation system to obtain additional acoustic information while surveying their environments. This system has been supported by changes in vocal emission rates when shrews encounter different habitats of varying complexity, although detailed acoustic features in this system have not been reported. In this study, behavioral experiments were conducted using the long-clawed shrew (Sorex unguiculatus) to assess this orientation system. Three experimental conditions were set, two of which contained obstacles. Short-click, noisy, and different types of tonal calls in the audible-to-ultrasonic frequency range were recorded under all experimental conditions. The results indicated that shrews emit calls more frequently when they are facing obstacles or exploring the experimental environment. Shrews emitted clicks and several different types of tonal calls while exploring, and modified the use of different types of calls for varying behavior. Furthermore, shrews modified the dominant frequency and duration of squeak calls for different types of obstacles, that is, plants and acrylic barriers. The vocalizations emitted at short inter-pulse intervals could not be observed when shrews approached these obstacles. These results are consistent with the echo-based orientation hypothesis according to which shrews use a simple echo-orientation system to obtain information from their surrounding environments, although further studies are needed to confirm this hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2629-2639
Number of pages11
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar


  • echolocation
  • habitat acoustics
  • the long-clawed shrew
  • vocal behavior


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