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Baumann-Pickering, S, McDonald MA, Simonis AE, Berga AS, Merkens KPB, Oleson EM, Roch MA, Wiggins SM, Rankin S, Yack TM, Hildebrand JA.  2013.  Species-specific beaked whale echolocation signals. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 134:2293-2301. AbstractWebsite

Beaked whale echolocation signals are mostly frequency-modulated (FM) upsweep pulses and appear to be species specific. Evolutionary processes of niche separation may have driven differentiation of beaked whale signals used for spatial orientation and foraging. FM pulses of eight species of beaked whales were identified, as well as five distinct pulse types of unknown species, but presumed to be from beaked whales. Current evidence suggests these five distinct but unidentified FM pulse types are also species-specific and are each produced by a separate species. There may be a relationship between adult body length and center frequency with smaller whales producing higher frequency signals. This could be due to anatomical and physiological restraints or it could be an evolutionary adaption for detection of smaller prey for smaller whales with higher resolution using higher frequencies. The disadvantage of higher frequencies is a shorter detection range. Whales echolocating with the highest frequencies, or broadband, likely lower source level signals also use a higher repetition rate, which might compensate for the shorter detection range. Habitat modeling with acoustic detections should give further insights into how niches and prey may have shaped species-specific FM pulse types.

Baumann-Pickering, S, Simonis AE, Wiggins SM, Brownell RL, Hildebrand JA.  2012.  Aleutian Islands beaked whale echolocation signals. Marine Mammal Science. :-no.   10.1111/j.1748-7692.2011.00550.x   AbstractWebsite

Beaked whales are an elusive group of marine mammals. They are infrequently encountered as they are pelagic, deep diving foragers with short surface intervals between long dives (Tyack et al. 2006). In recent years, research has shown that beaked whales produce frequency modulated (FM) upsweep echolocation signals (Zimmer et al. 2005, Johnson et al. 2006, Gillespie et al. 2009, McDonald et al. 2009, Baumann-Pickering et al. 2010), which appear to be species specific in their spectral and temporal characteristics. Their typical echolocation behavior during foraging consists of FM pulses with very regular interpulse intervals (IPIs) while searching for prey, and discrete click series with short IPIs when closing in on a potential prey target, called a buzz (Johnson et al. 2004, Madsen et al. 2005).

Baumann-Pickering, S, Trickey JS, Wiggins SM, Oleson EM.  2016.  Odontocete occurrence in relation to changes in oceanography at a remote equatorial Pacific seamount. Marine Mammal Science.   10.1111/mms.12299   Abstract

Seamounts are considered hot spots of biodiversity and can aggregate pelagic predators and their prey. Passive acoustic monitoring was conducted over 3 mo in 2012 to document the occurrence of odontocetes near a seamount chain in the central equatorial Pacific in relation to oceanographic changes over time. Beaked whale echolocation signals were most frequently encountered. The main beaked whale signal was an unknown type, BW38, which resembled signals produced by Blainville's beaked whales. It had high occurrence during high sea surface temperature and low sea surface salinity. Cuvier's beaked whales were the second most detected. They had an opposite pattern and were encountered more often when sea surface temperature was low and net primary productivity was high. Risso's dolphins and short-finned pilot whales had high acoustic densities, and echolocated predominantly at night. Risso's dolphins occurred more often during low sea surface height deviation. False killer whales were less frequently detected and mostly occurred during the day. Sperm whale detections were fewer than expected and associated with high chlorophyll a. Short duration Kogiidae encounters occurred on average every third day. These types of long-term site studies are an informative tool to comparatively assess species composition, relative abundance, and relationship to oceanographic changes.

Baumann-Pickering, S, Roch MA, Brownell RL, Simonis AE, McDonald MA, Solsona-Berga A, Oleson EM, Wiggins SM, Hildebrand JA.  2014.  Spatio-temporal patterns of beaked whale echolocation signals in the North Pacific. Plos One. 9   10.1371/journal.pone.0086072   AbstractWebsite

At least ten species of beaked whales inhabit the North Pacific, but little is known about their abundance, ecology, and behavior, as they are elusive and difficult to distinguish visually at sea. Six of these species produce known species-specific frequency modulated (FM) echolocation pulses: Baird's, Blainville's, Cuvier's, Deraniyagala's, Longman's, and Stejneger's beaked whales. Additionally, one described FM pulse (BWC) from Cross Seamount, Hawai'i, and three unknown FM pulse types (BW40, BW43, BW70) have been identified from almost 11 cumulative years of autonomous recordings at 24 sites throughout the North Pacific. Most sites had a dominant FM pulse type with other types being either absent or limited. There was not a strong seasonal influence on the occurrence of these signals at any site, but longer time series may reveal smaller, consistent fluctuations. Only the species producing BWC signals, detected throughout the Pacific Islands region, consistently showed a diel cycle with nocturnal foraging. By comparing stranding and sighting information with acoustic findings, we hypothesize that BWC signals are produced by ginkgo-toothed beaked whales. BW43 signal encounters were restricted to Southern California and may be produced by Perrin's beaked whale, known only from Californian waters. BW70 signals were detected in the southern Gulf of California, which is prime habitat for Pygmy beaked whales. Hubb's beaked whale may have produced the BW40 signals encountered off central and southern California; however, these signals were also recorded off Pearl and Hermes Reef and Wake Atoll, which are well south of their known range.

Baumann-Pickering, S, Wiggins SM, Roth EH, Roch MA, Schnitzler HU, Hildebrand JA.  2010.  Echolocation signals of a beaked whale at Palmyra Atoll. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 127:3790-9.   10.1121/1.3409478   AbstractWebsite

Acoustic recordings from Palmyra Atoll, northern Line Islands, central Pacific, showed upsweep frequency modulated pulses reminiscent of those produced by beaked whales. These signals had higher frequencies, broader bandwidths, longer pulse durations and shorter inter-pulse intervals than previously described pulses of Blainville's, Cuvier's and Gervais' beaked whales [Zimmer et al. (2005). J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 117, 3919-3927; Johnson et al. (2006). J. Exp. Biol. 209, 5038-5050; Gillespie et al. (2009). J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 125, 3428-3433]. They were distinctly different temporally and spectrally from the unknown beaked whale at Cross Seamount, HI [McDonald et al. (2009). J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 125, 624-627]. Genetics on beaked whale specimens found at Palmyra Atoll suggest the presence of a poorly known beaked whale species. Mesoplodon sp. might be the source of the FM pulses described in this paper. The Palmyra Atoll FM pulse peak frequency was at 44 kHz with a -10 dB bandwidth of 26 kHz. Mean pulse duration was 355 mus and inter-pulse interval was 225 ms, with a bimodal distribution. Buzz sequences were detected with inter-pulse intervals below 20 ms and unmodulated spectra, with about 20 dB lower amplitude than prior FM pulses. These clicks had a 39 kHz bandwidth (-10 dB), peak frequency at 37 kHz, click duration 155 mus, and inter-click interval between 4 and 10 ms.

Baumann-Pickering, S, Simonis AE, Oleson EM, Baird RW, Roch MA, Wiggins SM.  2015.  False killer whale and short-finned pilot whale acoustic identification. Endangered Species Research. 28:97-108.   10.3354/esr00685   Abstract

ABSTRACT: False killer whales Pseudorca crassidens and short-finned pilot whales Globicephala macrorhynchus are known to interact with long-line fishing gear in Hawaiian waters, causing economic loss and leading to whale injuries and deaths. The main Hawaiian Islands’ insular population of false killer whales is listed as endangered and the offshore population is considered ‘strategic’ under the Marine Mammal Protection Act due to relatively high bycatch levels. Discriminating between these species acoustically is problematic due to similarity in the spectral content of their echolocation clicks. We used passive acoustic monitoring along with data from satellite tags to distinguish signals from these 2 species. Acoustic encounters recorded with autonomous instruments offshore of the islands of Hawai‘i and Kaua‘i were matched with concurrent and nearby location information obtained from satellite tagged individuals. Two patterns of echolocation clicks were established for the 2 species. The overall spectral click parameters were highly similar (22 kHz peak and 25 kHz center frequency), but false killer whales had shorter duration and broader bandwidth clicks than short-finned pilot whales (225 µs, 8 kHz [-3 dB bandwidth] and 545 µs, 4 kHz, respectively). Also, short-finned pilot whale clicks showed distinct spectral peaks at 12 and 18 kHz. Automated classification techniques using Gaussian mixture models had a 6.5% median error rate. Based on these findings for echolocation clicks and prior published work on whistle classification, acoustic encounters of false killer whales and short-finned pilot whales on autonomous instruments should be identifiable to species level, leading to better long-term monitoring with the goal of mitigating bycatch.

Baumann-Pickering, S, Wiggins SM, Hildebrand JA, Roch MA, Schnitzler HU.  2010.  Discriminating features of echolocation clicks of melon-headed whales (Peponocephala electra), bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), and Gray's spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris longirostris). Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 128:2212-24.   10.1121/1.3479549   AbstractWebsite

Spectral parameters were used to discriminate between echolocation clicks produced by three dolphin species at Palmyra Atoll: melon-headed whales (Peponocephala electra), bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and Gray's spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris longirostris). Single species acoustic behavior during daytime observations was recorded with a towed hydrophone array sampling at 192 and 480 kHz. Additionally, an autonomous, bottom moored High-frequency Acoustic Recording Package (HARP) collected acoustic data with a sampling rate of 200 kHz. Melon-headed whale echolocation clicks had the lowest peak and center frequencies, spinner dolphins had the highest frequencies and bottlenose dolphins were nested in between these two species. Frequency differences were significant. Temporal parameters were not well suited for classification. Feature differences were enhanced by reducing variability within a set of single clicks by calculating mean spectra for groups of clicks. Median peak frequencies of averaged clicks (group size 50) of melon-headed whales ranged between 24.4 and 29.7 kHz, of bottlenose dolphins between 26.7 and 36.7 kHz, and of spinner dolphins between 33.8 and 36.0 kHz. Discriminant function analysis showed the ability to correctly discriminate between 93% of melon-headed whales, 75% of spinner dolphins and 54% of bottlenose dolphins.

Baumann-Pickering, S, M. Yack T, Barlow J, Wiggins SM, Hildebrand JA.  2013.  Baird's beaked whale echolocation signals. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 133:4321-4331.   10.1121/1.4804316   AbstractWebsite

Echolocation signals from Baird's beaked whales were recorded during visual and acoustic shipboard surveys of cetaceans in the California Current ecosystem and with autonomous, long-term recorders in the Southern California Bight. The preliminary measurement of the visually validated Baird's beaked whale echolocation signals from towed array data were used as a basis for identifying Baird's signals in the autonomous recorder data. Two distinct signal types were found, one being a beaked whale-like frequency modulated (FM) pulse, the other being a dolphin-like broadband click. The median FM inter-pulse interval was 230 ms. Both signal types showed a consistent multi-peak structure in their spectra with peaks at ∼9, 16, 25, and 40 kHz. Depending on signal type, as well as recording aspect and distance to the hydrophone, these peaks varied in relative amplitude. The description of Baird's echolocation signals will allow for studies of their distribution and abundance using towed array data without associated visual sightings and from autonomous seafloor hydrophones.

Baumann-Pickering, S, Roch MA, Wiggins SM, Schnitzler HU, Hildebrand JA.  2015.  Acoustic behavior of melon-headed whales varies on a diel cycle. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 69:1553-1563.   10.1007/s00265-015-1967-0   AbstractWebsite

Many terrestrial and marine species have a diel activity pattern, and their acoustic signaling follows their current behavioral state. Whistles and echolocation clicks on long-term recordings produced by melon-headed whales (Peponocephala electra) at Palmyra Atoll indicated that these signals were used selectively during different phases of the day, strengthening the idea of nighttime foraging and daytime resting with afternoon socializing for this species. Spectral features of their echolocation clicks changed from day to night, shifting the median center frequency up. Additionally, click received levels increased with increasing ambient noise during both day and night. Ambient noise over a wide frequency band was on average higher at night. The diel adjustment of click features might be a reaction to acoustic masking caused by these nighttime sounds. Similar adaptations have been documented for numerous taxa in response to noise. Or it could be, unrelated, an increase in biosonar source levels and with it a shift in center frequency to enhance detection distances during foraging at night. Call modifications in intensity, directionality, frequency, and duration according to echolocation task are well established for bats. This finding indicates that melon-headed whales have flexibility in their acoustic behavior, and they collectively and repeatedly adapt their signals from day- to nighttime circumstances.

Bayless, AR, Oleson EM, Baumann-Pickering S, Simonis AE, Marchetti J, Martin S, Wiggins SM.  2017.  Acoustically monitoring the Hawai'i longline fishery for interactions with false killer whales. Fisheries Research. 190:122-131.   10.1016/j.fishres.2017.02.006   AbstractWebsite

False killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) feed primarily on several species of large pelagic fish, species that are also targeted by the Hawai'i-permitted commercial deep-set longline fishery. False killer whales have been known to approach fishing lines in an attempt to procure bait or catch from the lines, a behavior known as depredation. This behavior can lead to the hooking or entanglement of an animal, which currently exceeds sustainable levels for pelagic false killer whales in Hawaii. Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) was used to record false killer whales near longline fishing gear to investigate the timing, rate, and spatial extent of false killer whale occurrence. Acoustic data were collected using small autonomous recorders modified for deployment on the mainline of longline fishing gear. A total of 90 fishing sets were acoustically monitored in 2013 and 2014 on a chartered longline vessel using up to five acoustic recorders deployed throughout the fishing gear. Of the 102 odontocete click and/or whistle bouts detected on 55 sets, 26 bouts detected on 19 different fishing sets were classified as false killer whales with high or medium confidence based on either whistle classification, click classification, or both. The timing of false killer whale acoustic presence near the gear was related to the timing of fishing activities, with 57% of the false killer whale bouts occurring while gear was being hauled, with 50% of those bouts occurring during the first third of the haul. During three fishing sets, false killer whales were detected on more than one recorder, and in all cases the whales were recorded on instruments farther from the fishing vessel as the haul proceeded. Only three of the 19 sets with acoustically-confirmed false killer whale presence showed signs of bait or catch damage by marine mammals, which may relate to the difficulty of reporting depredation. PAM has proven to be a relatively inexpensive and efficient method for monitoring the Hawai'i longline fishery for interactions with false killer whales. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.