Publications

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2015
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.

2012
McKenna, MF, Katz SL, Wiggins SM, Ross D, Hildebrand JA.  2012.  A quieting ocean: Unintended consequence of a fluctuating economy. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 132:EL169-EL175.   10.1121/1.4740225   AbstractWebsite

Simultaneous long-term monitoring of underwater sound and ship traffic provided an opportunity to study how low-frequency noise correlated with ocean-based commercial shipping trends. Between 2007 and 2010 changes in regional shipping off southern California occurred as a consequence of economic and regulatory events. Underwater average noise levels measured before and during these events showed a net reduction of 12 dB. Statistical models revealed that a reduction of 1 ship transit per day resulted in 1 dB decrease in average noise. This synthesis of maritime traffic statistics with ocean noise monitoring provides an important step in understanding the magnitude and potential effects of chronic noise in marine habitats. (C) 2012 Acoustical Society of America

2008
Cranford, TW, McKenna MF, Soldevilla MS, Wiggins SM, Goldbogen JA, Shadwick RE, Krysl P, St Leger JA, Hildebrand JA.  2008.  Anatomic geometry of sound transmission and reception in Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris). Anatomical Record-Advances in Integrative Anatomy and Evolutionary Biology. 291:353-378.   10.1002/ar.20652   AbstractWebsite

This study uses remote imaging technology to quantify, compare, and contrast the cephalic anatomy between a neonate female and a young adult male Cuvier's beaked whale. Primary results reveal details of anatomic geometry with implications for acoustic function and diving. Specifically, we describe the juxtaposition of the large pterygoid sinuses, a fibrous venous plexus, and a lipid-rich pathway that connects the acoustic environment to the bony ear complex. We surmise that the large pterygoid air sinuses are essential adaptations for maintaining acoustic isolation and auditory acuity of the ears at depth. In the adult male, an acoustic waveguide lined with pachyosteosclerotic bones is apparently part of a novel transmission pathway for outgoing biosonar signals. Substitution of dense tissue boundaries where we normally find air sacs in delphinoids appears to be a recurring theme in deep-diving beaked whales and sperm whales. The anatomic configuration of the adult male Ziphius forehead resembles an upside-down sperm whale nose and may be its functional equivalent, but the homologous relationships between forehead structures are equivocal. Anat Rec, 291:353-378, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.