[MARMAM] New publication: Communication in Cook Inlet beluga whales: Describing the vocal repertoire and masking of calls by commercial ship noise

Arial Brewer arialb at uw.edu
Thu Nov 30 17:19:58 PST 2023

Dear MARMAM community,

On behalf of my co-authors, I am excited to share our recent publication
in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, entitled
"Communication in Cook Inlet beluga whales: Describing the vocal repertoire
and masking of calls by commercial ship noise."

The paper is available here. Feel free to also email me for the PDF.

Abstract: Many species rely on acoustic communication to coordinate
activities and communicate to conspecifics. Cataloging vocal behavior is a
first step towards understanding how individuals communicate information
and how communication may be degraded by anthropogenic noise. The Cook
Inlet beluga population is endangered with an estimated 331 individuals.
Anthropogenic noise is considered a threat for this population and can
negatively impact communication. To characterize this population's vocal
behavior, vocalizations were measured and classified into three categories:
whistles (*n* = 1264, 77%), pulsed calls (*n* = 354, 22%), and combined
calls (*n* = 15, 1%), resulting in 41 call types. Two quantitative analyses
were conducted to compare with the manual classification. A classification
and regression tree and Random Forest had a 95% and 85% agreement with the
manual classification, respectively. The most common call types per
category were then used to investigate masking by commercial ship noise.
Results indicate that these call types were partially masked by distant
ship noise and completely masked by close ship noise in the frequency range
of 0–12 kHz. Understanding vocal behavior and the effects of masking in
Cook Inlet belugas provides important information supporting the management
of this endangered population.

Arial Brewer
arialb at uw.edu

Arial Brewer
PhD Student | Berdahl <https://fish.uw.edu/faculty/andrew-berdahl/> / Van
Cise Labs <https://www.amyvancise.com/>
School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
University of Washington- Seattle
Research Scientist
Cetacean Assessment and Ecology Program, Marine Mammal Laboratory
Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries
Pronouns: she/her
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