[MARMAM] A New Context-Based Approach to Assess Marine Mammal Behavioral Responses to Anthropogenic Sounds

Brandon Southall Brandon.Southall at sea-inc.net
Wed Dec 21 22:24:25 PST 2011

MARMAM subscribers,

We would like to bring to your attention the following recent publication:

*A New Context-Based Approach to Assess Marine Mammal
Behavioral Responses to Anthropogenic Sounds*

Conservation Biology, Volume **, No. *, 1--8
2011, Society for Conservation Biology
published online: DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2011.01803.x

The link to the full article is 
The link to the abstract is 

        and the abstract text is given below:

_Abstract_: Acute effects of anthropogenic sounds on marine mammals, 
such as from military sonars, energy
development, and offshore construction, have received considerable 
international attention from scientists,
regulators, and industry. Moreover, there has been increasing 
recognition and concern about the potential
chronic effects of human activities (e.g., shipping). It has been 
demonstrated that increases in human activity
and background noise can alter habitats of marine animals and 
potentially mask communications for species
that rely on sound to mate, feed, avoid predators, and navigate. Without 
exception, regulatory agencies
required to assess and manage the effects of noise on marine mammals 
have addressed only the acute effects
of noise on hearing and behavior. Furthermore, they have relied on a 
single exposure metric to assess acute
effects: the absolute sound level received by the animal. There is 
compelling evidence that factors other than
received sound level, including the activity state of animals exposed to 
different sounds, the nature and
novelty of a sound, and spatial relations between sound source and 
receiving animals (i.e., the exposure
context) strongly affect the probability of a behavioral response. A 
more comprehensive assessment method
is needed that accounts for the fact that multiple contextual factors 
can affect how animals respond to both
acute and chronic noise. We propose a three-part approach. The first 
includes measurement and evaluation
of context-based behavioral responses of marine mammals exposed to 
various sounds. The second includes
new assessment metrics that emphasize relative sound levels (i.e., ratio 
of signal to background noise and
level above hearing threshold). The third considers the effects of 
chronic and acute noise exposure. All three
aspects of sound exposure (context, relative sound level, and chronic 
noise) mediate behavioral response, and
we suggest they be integrated into ecosystem-level management and the 
spatial planning of human offshore

_Keywords_: behavioral context, noise, received level, signal-to-noise ratio

Thanks and wishing everyone has a wonderful holidays,
William Ellison, Brandon Southall, Chris Clark, Adam Frankel

Brandon L. Southall, Ph.D.
President, Senior Scientist, SEA, Inc.
Research Associate, University of California, Santa Cruz
9099 Soquel Drive, Suite 8, Aptos, CA 95003, USA
831.332.8744 (mobile); 831.661.5177 (office); 831.661.5178 (fax)
Brandon.Southall at sea-inc.net; www.sea-inc.net

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