Volume 135, Issue 5, May 2014
Index of content:
- ANIMAL BIOACOUSTICS 
135(2014); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4870057View Description Hide Description
Several marine autonomous recording units (MARUs) were deployed in northeastern Gulf of Mexico from 2010–2012 to study the acoustic ecology of Bryde's whales (Balaenoptera edeni) following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. However, the acoustic repertoire of this sub-population is poorly documented, presently limiting the efficacy of acoustic monitoring applications. Numerous stereotyped, low-frequency signals from a putative biological sound source were found throughout the recordings. Sounds fell into three categories distinguished by spectral and temporal properties. Multiple calls overlapped temporally on individual MARUs, suggesting that multiple sources produced these sounds. The basic features are similar to those from other mysticetes, but they differ from any previously published sounds. Since Bryde's whales are the most common mysticete in the Gulf and have previously been observed within the recording area on multiple occasions, it is likely that Bryde's whales are the most probable source of these sounds. These results potentially identify a suite of previously undocumented calls from Bryde's whales, which could facilitate future passive acoustic monitoring efforts to better understand the population dynamics and status of this sub-population.
135(2014); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4869483View Description Hide Description
Big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) use biosonar to navigate and locate objects in their surroundings. During natural foraging, they often encounter echoes returned by a target of interest located to the front while other, often stronger, clutter echoes are returned from objects, such as vegetation, located to the sides or above. Nevertheless, bats behave as if they do not suffer interference from this clutter. Using a two-choice delay discrimination procedure, bats were tested for the masking effectiveness of clutter echoes on target echoes when the target echoes were delivered from the bat's front while clutter echoes were delivered from 90° overhead, a direction of lowpass filtering by the external ears. When clutter echoes are presented from the front at the same delay as target echoes, detection performance declines and clutter masking occurs. When the clutter echoes are presented at the same delay but from overhead, discrimination performance is unaffected and no masking occurs. Thus there is masking release for simultaneous off-axis lowpass clutter compared to masking by simultaneous clutter from the front. The bat's performance for simultaneous target and clutter echoes indicates a new role for the mechanism that separates overlapping echoes by decomposing the bat's auditory time-frequency representation.
135(2014); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4869853View Description Hide Description
Annual federal stock assessment surveys for Alaskan sablefish also attempt to measure sperm whale depredation by quantifying visual evidence of depredation, including lip remains and damaged fish. A complementary passive acoustic method for quantifying depredation was investigated during the 2011 and 2012 survey hauls. A combination of machine-aided and human analysis counted the number of distinct “creak” sounds detected on autonomous recorders deployed during the survey, emphasizing sounds that are followed by silence (“creak-pauses”), a possible indication of prey capture. These raw counts were then adjusted for variations in background noise levels between deployments. Both a randomized Pearson correlation analysis and a generalized linear model found that noise-adjusted counts of “creak-pauses” were highly correlated with survey counts of lip remains during both years (2012: r(10) = 0.89, p = 1e-3; 2011: r(39) = 0.72, p = 4e-3) and somewhat correlated with observed sablefish damage in 2011 [r(39) = 0.37, p = 0.03], but uncorrelated with other species depredation. The acoustic depredation count was anywhere from 10% to 80% higher than the visual counts, depending on the survey year and assumptions employed. The results suggest that passive acoustics can provide upper bounds on depredation rates; however, the observed correlation breaks down whenever three or more whales are present.
135(2014); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4870697View Description Hide Description
The behavior of wild, pelagic fish in response to sound playback was observed with a sonar/echo sounder. Schools of sprat Sprattus sprattus and mackerel Scomber scombrus were examined at a quiet coastal location. The fish were exposed to a short sequence of repeated impulsive sounds, simulating the strikes from a pile driver, at different sound pressure levels. The incidence of behavioral responses increased with increasing sound level. Sprat schools were more likely to disperse and mackerel schools more likely to change depth. The sound pressure levels to which the fish schools responded on 50% of presentations were 163.2 and 163.3 dB re 1 μPa peak-to-peak, and the single strike sound exposure levels were 135.0 and 142.0 dB re 1 μPa2 s, for sprat and mackerel, respectively, estimated from dose response curves. For sounds leading to mackerel responses, particle velocity levels were also estimated. The method of observation by means of a sonar/echo sounder proved successful in examining the behavior of unrestrained fish exposed to different sound levels. The technique may allow further testing of the relationship between responsiveness, sound level, and sound characteristics for different types of man-made sound, for a variety of fish species under varied conditions.