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Calibrating passive acoustic monitoring: Correcting humpback whale call detections for site-specific and time-dependent environmental characteristics
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View: Figures


Image of FIG. 1.

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FIG. 1.

Map of coastal California showing the two HARP locations: site SBC and site SR (stars). Ship traffic from the AIS is shown for the region. The color scale indicates the number of recorded unique transits within a 1 km2 area from October 2009–October 2010. Yellow and orange regions indicate 76–500 total transits, red regions indicate 501–1250 total transits, and purple regions indicate greater than 1251 transits. Note that ship traffic is shown after the enforcement of CARB law, as indicated by greater shipping traffic outside the Santa Barbara Channel.

Image of FIG. 2.

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FIG. 2.

Ocean noise levels in the 150–1800 Hz band over the 2008–2009 period at site SBC (upper) and SR (lower). The gray curves indicate the noise levels averaged over 75 s increments, the green curves are the running mean with a seven-day window, and the black curve (site SR only) is a plot of the average noise levels in a seven-day window measured at the times adjacent to each detected humpback unit. White spaces indicate periods with no data. The blue vertical lines mark the start of enforcement of CARB law.

Image of FIG. 3.

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FIG. 3.

Ocean noise levels at site SBC in May 2008 (upper), probability of detecting a humpback unit ( ) within a 20 km radius of site SBC in May 2008 (middle), and the number of humpback units detected in uncorrected form ( ) at site SBC for the same time period (lower). Shaded time periods indicates sunset to sunrise. The vertical grid lines indicate midnight local time.

Image of FIG. 4.

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FIG. 4.

(Color online) Uncorrected number of humpback units detected ( ) in the 2008–2009 period at site SR (upper), estimated probability of detecting a humpback unit ( ) within a 20 km radius of site SR (middle), and the corrected estimated number of units occurring per unit area at site SR for the same time period (lower).


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This paper demonstrates the importance of accounting for environmental effects on passive underwater acoustic monitoring results. The situation considered is the reduction in shipping off the California coast between 2008–2010 due to the recession and environmental legislation. The resulting variations in ocean noise change the probability of detecting marine mammal vocalizations. An acoustic model was used to calculate the time-varying probability of detecting humpback whale vocalizations under best-guess environmental conditions and varying noise. The uncorrected call counts suggest a diel pattern and an increase in calling over a two-year period; the corrected call counts show minimal evidence of these features.


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752b84549af89a08dbdd7fdb8b9568b5 journal.articlezxybnytfddd
Scitation: Calibrating passive acoustic monitoring: Correcting humpback whale call detections for site-specific and time-dependent environmental characteristics