Echolocation bats can evaluate statistical property of echoes from trees

Echolocation bats can perceive 3D structure of objects, but how about complex ones, like trees? Trees have thousands of reflective surfaces that result in a chaotic acoustic image. Scientists [1] demonstrated that bat Phyllostomus discolor can recognize basic features of a tree.

Ambient noise and bat echolocation

The ambient noise concerned a lot people about the adaptations of echolocating animals including bats and underwater mammals. How would they react to the noise? Does noise at all frequencies influence their echolocation performance during foraging and navigation? Scientists [1] recently did research on the relationship between ambient noise and the changes in both horseshoe bats' call frequencies and amplitude. They collected calls from horseshoe bats which are highly vocal and constantly adjust their pulses to optimize the performance of echolocation.

Bio-inspired forest nautilus

I wanted to build an outdoor living structure with natural lines, that would integrate well with the wooded surroundings and have minimal environmental impact.  After a number of design iterations, I settled on this seven-sided approach, inspired by the lines and geometry of a nautilus shell, which also has informed the golden ratio (1.6). Therefore, each side is progressively smaller than the last, by roughly a ratio of 1.6.  Similarly, the height differences between adjacent posts, while increasing, also are reduced roughly by a factor of 1.6.

Ant Mill

Ant colony is amazing. Each ant have very limited sensing. But they achieve fascinating feats like foraging and building nesting, by cooperationg with one other. They do this by following very simple rules.

What is bio-inspired and what we can learn?

Biology is diverse and amazing. Animals can be as big is a big blue whale, and as small as a single cell bacterial. They can achieve feats that our current technique hardly dream of. Although it is hard for us to understand how evolution have made who we are now, we have to admit the power that shapes us. Take a close look at finger monkey, we are surprised that although both are primates, evolution has shaped us to two ends. This provides a glimpse of how powerful evolution is.

Harvesting water from the air

As reported in WIRED magazine, designers have created a tower structure made of bamboo and polyester mesh that harvests water from humidity, condensation and dew. These so-called WarkaWater structures were inspired by the Warka tree, a common large fig tree in Ethiopia, as well as the water handling capabilities of the Namib beetle’s shell, lotus flower leaves, spider web threads and cactus.  

Mike and Bike

The ultimate form of biologically-inspired transportation is to walk, but riding a bicycle is 3-4 times as fast and about 3 times more efficient. In the golden age of bicycles (1890s), they were a primary form of transportation for the general public, being much more affordable and convenient to operate than horses.  They enabled workers to live farther from their jobs, beginning the world of commuting. Many people without the financial means to own a horse could buy and ride a bicycle, making travel more accessible and forever changing our culture.  

Urban Fragmentation and Human Movement Patterns

One of the examples that human activity influences animal movements is habitat fragmentation. Habitat fragmentation is a process that “a large expanse of habitat is transformed into a number of smaller patches of smaller total area, isolated from each other by a matrix of habitats unlike the original” (Wilcove et al.