[MARMAM] New publication on right whale vocal compensation and communication range in noise

Jennifer Tennessen jennifer.tennessen at gmail.com
Wed Jun 15 11:57:04 PDT 2016

Dear MARMAM readers,

We are pleased to announce the publication of the following paper in
Endangered Species Research. This paper is part of a Theme Section on "21st
Century paradigms for measuring and managing the effects of anthropogenic
ocean noise."

Tennessen JB, Parks SE (2016) Acoustic propagation modeling indicates vocal
compensation in noise improves communication range for North Atlantic right
whales. Endang Species Res 30: 225-237. doi:10.3354/esr00738

Sound from transoceanic shipping is a major component of ocean noise
budgets. Baleen whale communication may be particularly vulnerable to
shipping noise impacts due to overlap in the frequencies of signals and
noise. Baleen whales rely upon acoustic signals to mediate a variety of
social interactions when separated beyond visual range. We investigated the
potential for noise to interfere with critical reunion events between
mother-calf pairs of Endangered North Atlantic right whales *Eubalaena
glacialis*, and whether vocal compensation can improve or maintain
communication space between the sender and receiver. This information is
necessary to inform future conservation efforts. We used acoustic
propagation modeling to predict the transmission loss of the primary tonal
communication signal used during mother-calf communication, the ‘upcall’,
to (1) estimate over what ranges a receiving whale can detect a signal in
anthropogenic noise, and (2) determine the effects of vocal compensation on
detection range. Our results indicate that both point-source noise from
nearby container ships and increased background noise from distant shipping
may significantly limit communication space. Additionally, we show how
amplitude and frequency compensation can increase the likelihood of
detecting communication signals in masking noise under present conditions.
We discuss these impacts of ship noise on communication, as well as the
evidence that documented noise compensation behaviors of right whales can
improve communication range in the presence of low-frequency ship noise.

Please find the full text available at:

Or email me directly for a pdf copy:
jennifer.tennessen at gmail.com

Best wishes,
Jennifer Tennessen

Jennifer B. Tennessen, Ph.D.
Research Associate
Department of Biology
Western Washington University
Bellingham, WA, 98225
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