Volume 134, Issue 6, December 2013
Index of content:
- BIOACOUSTICS 
Vocalization characteristics of North Atlantic right whale surface active groups in the calving habitat, southeastern United States134(2013); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4824682View Description Hide Description
Passive acoustic surveys were conducted to assess the vocal behavior of North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) in the designated critical calving habitat along the shallow coastal waters of southeastern United States. Underwater vocalizations were recorded using autonomous buoys deployed in close proximity to surface active groups (SAGs). Nine main vocalization types were identified with manual inspection of spectrograms, and standard acoustic descriptors were extracted. Classification trees were used to examine the distinguishing characteristics of calls and quantify their variability within the SAG vocal repertoire. The results show that descriptors of frequency, bandwidth, and spectral disorder are the most important parameters for partitioning the SAG repertoire, contrary to duration-related measures. The reported source levels and vocalization statistics provide sound production data vital to inform regional passive acoustic monitoring and conservation for this endangered species.
134(2013); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4826179View Description Hide Description
Studies with echolocating odontocetes have suggested that forms of automatic gain control mediate auditory electrophysiological responses to target-related echoes. This study used a phantom echo generator and auditory evoked potential measurements to examine automatic gain control in a bottlenose dolphin. Auditory evoked potentials to outgoing clicks and incoming echoes were recorded for simulated ranges from 2.5 to 80 m. When geometric spreading loss was simulated, echo-evoked potential amplitudes were essentially constant up to 14 m and progressively decreased with increasing range. When the echo levels were held constant relative to clicks, echo-evoked potential amplitudes increased with increasing range up to 80 m. These results suggest that automatic gain control maintains distance-independent echo-evoked potential amplitudes at close range, but does not fully compensate for attenuation due to spreading loss at longer ranges. The automatic gain control process appears to arise from an interaction of transmitter and receiver based processes, resulting in a short-range region of distance-independent echo-evoked potential amplitudes for relevant targets, and a longer-range region in which echo-evoked potential amplitudes are reduced.
Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) detection of simulated echoes from normal and time-reversed clicks134(2013); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4824678View Description Hide Description
In matched filter processing, a stored template of the emitted sonar pulse is compared to echoes to locate individual replicas of the emitted pulse embedded in the echo stream. A number of experiments with bats have suggested that bats utilize matched filter processing for target ranging, but not for target detection. For dolphins, the few available data suggest that dolphins do not utilize matched filter processing. In this study, the effect of time-reversing a dolphin's emitted click was investigated. If the dolphin relied upon matched filter processing, time-reversal of the click would be expected to reduce the correlation between the (unaltered) click and the echoes and therefore lower detection performance. Two bottlenose dolphins were trained to perform a phantom echo detection task. On a small percentage of trials (“probe trials”), a dolphin's emitted click was time-reversed before interacting with the phantom echo system. Data from the normal and time-reversed trials were then analyzed and compared. There were no significant differences in detection performance or click emissions between the normal and time-reversed conditions for either subject, suggesting that the dolphins did not utilize matched filter processing for this echo detection task.
Time and frequency metrics related to auditory masking of a 10 kHz tone in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)134(2013); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4824680View Description Hide Description
Metrics related to the frequency spectrum of noise (e.g., critical ratios) are often used to describe and predict auditory masking. In this study, detection thresholds for a 10 kHz tone were measured in the presence of anthropogenic, natural, and synthesized noise. Time-domain and frequency-domain metrics were calculated for the different noise types, and regression models were used to determine the relationship between noise metrics and masked tonal thresholds. Statistical models suggested that detection thresholds, masked by a variety of noise types at a variety of noise levels, can be explained with metrics related to the spectral density of noise and the degree to which amplitude modulation is correlated across frequency regions of the noise. The results demonstrate the need to include time-domain metrics when describing and predicting auditory masking.
Mixed-methods analytic approach for determining potential impacts of vessel noise on sperm whale click behavior134(2013); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4828819View Description Hide Description
The Gulf of Mexico is a center of marine activities from seismic exploration to shipping, drilling, platform installation, lightering, and construction, among others. This analysis explored whether sperm whales respond to the passage of vessels using changes in total number of clicks during vessel passages as a proxy for potential variation in behavior. The data for this analysis were collected in 2001 as part of a larger Littoral Acoustic Demonstration Center project using the Environmental Acoustics Recording System buoys. These buoys were bottom moored, autonomous, and self-recording systems consisting of an omni-directional hydrophone and instrument package. Data from 36 days of continuous acoustic monitoring were recorded at a sampling rate of 11.725 kHz, and produced reliable recordings from 5 Hz to ∼5.8 kHz. Multiple preparatory steps were executed including calibration of an automatic click detector. Results indicate a significant decrease (32%) in the number of clicks detected as a ship approached an area. There were also significantly fewer clicks detected after the vessel passed than before (23%).