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Frasier, KE, Roch MA, Soldevilla MS, Wiggins SM, Garrison LP, Hildebrand JA.  2017.  Automated classification of dolphin echolocation click types from the Gulf of Mexico. Plos Computational Biology. 13   10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005823   AbstractWebsite

Delphinids produce large numbers of short duration, broadband echolocation clicks which may be useful for species classification in passive acoustic monitoring efforts. A challenge in echolocation click classification is to overcome the many sources of variability to recognize underlying patterns across many detections. An automated unsupervised network-based classification method was developed to simulate the approach a human analyst uses when categorizing click types: Clusters of similar clicks were identified by incorporating multiple click characteristics (spectral shape and inter-click interval distributions) to distinguish within-type from between-type variation, and identify distinct, persistent click types. Once click types were established, an algorithm for classifying novel detections using existing clusters was tested. The automated classification method was applied to a dataset of 52 million clicks detected across five monitoring sites over two years in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). Seven distinct click types were identified, one of which is known to be associated with an acoustically identifiable delphinid (Risso's dolphin) and six of which are not yet identified. All types occurred at multiple monitoring locations, but the relative occurrence of types varied, particularly between continental shelf and slope locations. Automatically- identified click types from autonomous seafloor recorders without verifiable species identification were compared with clicks detected on sea-surface towed hydrophone arrays in the presence of visually identified delphinid species. These comparisons suggest potential species identities for the animals producing some echolocation click types. The network-based classification method presented here is effective for rapid, unsupervised delphinid click classification across large datasets in which the click types may not be known a priori.

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.

Frasier, KE, Wiggins SM, Harris D, Marques TA, Thomas L, Hildebrand JA.  2016.  Delphinid echolocation click detection probability on near-seafloor sensors. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 140:1918-1930.   10.1121/1.4962279   AbstractWebsite

The probability of detecting echolocating delphinids on a near-seafloor sensor was estimated using two Monte Carlo simulation methods. One method estimated the probability of detecting a single click (cue counting); the other estimated the probability of detecting a group of delphinids (group counting). Echolocation click beam pattern and source level assumptions strongly influenced detectability predictions by the cue counting model. Group detectability was also influenced by assumptions about group behaviors. Model results were compared to in situ recordings of encounters with Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus) and presumed pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata) from a near-seafloor four-channel tracking sensor deployed in the Gulf of Mexico (25.537 degrees N 84.632 degrees W, depth 1220 m). Horizontal detection range, received level and estimated source level distributions from localized encounters were compared with the model predictions. Agreement between in situ results and model predictions suggests that simulations can be used to estimate detection probabilities when direct distance estimation is not available. (C) 2016 Acoustical Society of America.