Publications

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2017
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.

2011
Munger, LM, Wiggins SM, Hildebrand JA.  2011.  North Pacific right whale up-call source levels and propagation distance on the southeastern Bering Sea shelf. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 129:4047-54.   10.1121/1.3557060   AbstractWebsite

Call source levels, transmission loss, and ambient noise levels were estimated for North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica) up-calls recorded in the southeastern Bering Sea in autumn of 2000 and 2001. Distances to calling animals, needed to estimate source levels, were based on two independent techniques: (1) arrival-time differences on three or more hydrophones and (2) shallow-water dispersion of normal modes on a single receiver. Average root-mean-square (rms) call source levels estimated by the two techniques were 178 and 176 dB re 1 muPa at 1 m, respectively, over the up-call frequency band, which was determined per call and averaged 90 to 170 Hz. Peak-to-peak source levels were 14 to 22 dB greater than rms levels. Transmission loss was approximately 15 *log(10)(range), intermediate between cylindrical and spherical spreading. Ambient ocean noise within the up-call band varied from 72 to 91 dB re 1 muPa(2)/Hz. Under average noise conditions, call spectrograms were detectable for whales at distances up to 100 km, but propagation and detection distance may vary depending on environmental parameters and anthropogenic noise. Obtaining distances to animals and acoustic detection range is a step toward using long-term passive acoustic recordings to estimate abundance for this critically endangered whale population.