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Density can be misleading for low-density species: benefits of passive acoustic monitoring.

TitleDensity can be misleading for low-density species: benefits of passive acoustic monitoring.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsRogers, TL, Ciaglia, MB, Klinck, H, Southwell, C
JournalPLoS One
Date Published2013
KeywordsAge Factors, Analysis of Variance, Animals, Antarctic Regions, Climate Change, Conservation of Natural Resources, Ecosystem, Female, Geography, Male, Oceans and Seas, Population Density, Seals, Earless, Sex Factors, Time Factors, Vocalization, Animal

Climate-induced changes may be more substantial within the marine environment, where following ecological change is logistically difficult, and typically expensive. As marine animals tend to produce stereotyped, long-range signals, they are ideal for repeatable surveying. In this study we illustrate the potential for calling rates to be used as a tool for determining habitat quality by using an Antarctic pack-ice seal, the leopard seal, as a model.With an understanding of the vocal behavior of a species, their seasonal and diurnal patterns, sex and age-related differences, an underwater passive-acoustic survey conducted alongside a visual survey in an arc of 4,225 km across the Davis Sea, Eastern Antarctica, showed that while acoustic and visual surveys identified similar regions as having high densities, the acoustic surveys surprisingly identified the opposite regions as being 'critical' habitats. Density surveys of species that cannot be differentiated into population classes may be misleading because overall density can be a negative indicator of habitat quality.Under special circumstances acoustics can offer enormous advantage over traditional techniques and open up monitoring to regions that are remote, difficult and expensive to work within, no longer restricting long-term community assessment to resource-wealthy communities. As climatic change affects a broad range of organisms across geographic boundaries we propose that capitalizing on the significant advances in passive acoustic technology, alongside physical acoustics and population modeling, can help in addressing ecological questions more broadly.

Alternate JournalPLoS ONE
PubMed ID23326339
PubMed Central IDPMC3541380