(redirected from Echo location)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical.
Related to Echo location: Human echolocation


determination of the position of an object by measuring the time taken for an echo to return from it and its direction



the perception of reflected sound waves, usually high-frequency, by certain animals, which emit them to detect objects in space, such as prey or obstacles, and determine their properties and dimensions. Echolocation is one of the means by which animals orient themselves in space. It is developed in bats and dolphins and has been discovered in shrews, a number of species of seals, and birds, including oilbirds and salanganes.

In dolphins and bats, echolocation is based on the emission of ultrasonic impulses with frequencies of as high as 130–200 kilo-hertz (kHz) and duration of signals usually from 0.2 to 4–5 milliseconds, sometimes more. In birds that live in dark caves, such as oilbirds and salanganes, it is used for orientation in the dark; they emit low-frequency signals of 7–4 kHz. Dolphins and bats use echolocation not only to determine their general orientation, but also to determine the spatial position of an object and its dimensions. In a number of cases echolocation even enables them to recognize the appearance of an object and therefore often serves as an important means of searching out and capturing food.


Airapet’iants, E. Sh., and A. I. Konstantinov. Ekholokatsiia v prirode, 2nd ed. Leningrad, 1974.



An animal's use of sound reflections to localize objects and to orient in the environment.
References in periodicals archive ?
We don't know if they are afraid to enter the channel because their echo location can't follow it.
They use echo location to fly and feed in the dark.
Alcathoe's bat has a distinctive echo location call, which goes to a much higher frequency than those of its relatives.
A groundbreaking cane for the blind and partially sighted based on ultrasound and echo location used by bats and dolphins was revealed in Birmingham yesterday.
I have a feeling what could be going on here might well be linked to the fact that dolphins use sonar-like echo location to navigate.
They will probably have to leave an area in which they cannot use their echo location skills to find food, and noise travels much further underwater.