[MARMAM] New Publication: Acoustic differentiation and classification of wild belugas and narwhals using echolocation clicks

Marie Zahn mzahn at uw.edu
Fri Nov 12 08:44:41 PST 2021


Dear colleagues,

On behalf of my co-authors, I am pleased to share our new publication
"Acoustic differentiation and classification of wild belugas and narwhals
using echolocation clicks" in *Scientific Reports*.

The paper is open-access and available online here:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-01441-w. You can access the PDF
for download here: https://rdcu.be/cBgzQ.

Abstract:
Belugas (*Delphinapterus leucas*) and narwhals (*Monodon monoceros*) are
highly social Arctic toothed whales with large vocal repertoires and
similar acoustic profiles. Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) that uses
multiple hydrophones over large spatiotemporal scales has been a primary
method to study their populations, particularly in response to rapid
climate change and increasing underwater noise. This study marks the first
acoustic comparison between wild belugas and narwhals from the same
location and reveals that they can be acoustically differentiated and
classified solely by echolocation clicks. Acoustic recordings were made in
the pack ice of Baffin Bay, West Greenland, during 2013. Multivariate
analyses and Random Forests classification models were applied to
eighty-one single-species acoustic events comprised of numerous
echolocation clicks. Results demonstrate a significant difference between
species’ acoustic parameters where beluga echolocation was distinguished by
higher frequency content, evidenced by higher peak frequencies, center
frequencies, and frequency minimums and maximums. Spectral peaks, troughs,
and center frequencies for beluga clicks were generally > 60 kHz and
narwhal clicks < 60 kHz with overlap between 40–60 kHz. Classification
model predictive performance was strong with an overall correct
classification rate of 97.5% for the best model. The most important
predictors for species assignment were defined by peaks and notches in
frequency spectra. Our results provide strong support for the use of
echolocation in PAM efforts to differentiate belugas and narwhals
acoustically.

Citation:
Zahn, M.J., S. Rankin, J.L.K. McCullough, J.C. Koblitz, F. Archer, M.H.
Rasmussen, K.L. Laidre. Acoustic differentiation and classification of wild
belugas and narwhals using echolocation clicks. *Sci Rep* 11, 22141 (2021).
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-01441-w

Cheers,
Marie

-- 

*MARIE ZAHN | *she/her

PhD Student, Laidre Lab <https://staff.washington.edu/klaidre/>

School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

University of Washington

w| mariezahn.com

m| 262.497.9223
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