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Anne Leonie Baier



Primary affiliation

Anne Leonie Baier CV

Areas of expertise

  • Bioacoustics
  • Biosonar
  • Bats
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Perception

Contact information

Email address


I have a strong interest in neuroethology and sensory ecology: How does the way that organisms perceive their environment influence their behavior and how does their behavior shape their perception? I study these questions in bats, a very successful clade of mammals. Living their lives in darkness, bats have switched vision with echolocation as their main remote sense. I want to understand this immense reshaping of their sensory world and find answers to the question to what extent vision can even be replaced by a sensory system that originally evolved to complement it. My largest contribution to my field is establishing dynamic virtual-realities for psychophysical lab studies in echolocating bats. I have used these techniques to address the neurophysiological aspects of what Niko Tinbergen called “Physiology of Behaviour” and what is now known as the field of neuroethology. Now I have the chance to address the same questions in wild bats!


My research goal is to quantify biosonar dynamics as a function of natural behaviour and habitats to gain a clear assessment of how a wild animal perceptually organizes complex and rapidly changing sensory scenes. What is the bat’s sensory percept in terms of sensory volume and resolution? How do bats adapt their sensory behaviour in the wild? Which role do external biotic and abiotic factors play, such as ambient light, ambient sounds and prey-induced sounds? Which role do behavioural contexts play, such as active-acoustic foraging with biosonar, passive-acoustic foraging and navigating?

My model species is the well-studied Neotropical fringe-lipped bat, Trachops cirrhosus, also known as the frog-eating bat. It forages both in dense understory and above water puddles, and roosts in (natural or man-made) caves or hollow trees, from where it navigates to its foraging grounds in the rainforest via open flight paths. It is an opportunistic omnivore, eating fruits and seeds as well as hunting insects and small vertebrates such as frogs or fish. It uses varying cues and weighs passive and active acoustic modes depending on a series of factors such as availability of cues and background noise. For my field work, I am hosted by the bat lab of Dr. Rachel Page at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Gamboa, Panama.

Selected publications

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