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Measuring acoustic habitats

To: "" <>
Subject: Measuring acoustic habitats
From: "Nathan Merchant (Cefas)" <>
Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2015 09:08:15 +0000

Dear Colleagues,


We are pleased to announce that the fully formatted version of this paper has now been published Open Access in Methods in Ecology and Evolution:


Merchant, N.D., Fristrup, K.M., Johnson, M.P., Tyack, P.L., Witt, M.J., Blondel, P., Parks, S.E. (2015). Measuring acoustic habitats. Methods in Ecology and Evolution.


Please note that a file was missing (PAMGuide.fig) from the pre-proof version of the Supplementary Material due to a publishing error – this has now been fixed in the formatted version.


PAMGuide, the software which accompanies this paper, will be maintained on Source Forge: Any updates or additions to the software will be added here, and extensions can be developed collaboratively.


With best wishes,


Nathan Merchant






1.Many organisms depend on sound for communication, predator/prey detection, and navigation. The acoustic environment can therefore play an important role in ecosystem dynamics and evolution. A growing number of studies are documenting acoustic habitats and their influences on animal development, behaviour, physiology, and spatial ecology, which has led to increasing demand for passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) expertise in the life sciences. However, as yet, there has been no synthesis of data processing methods for acoustic habitat monitoring, which presents an unnecessary obstacle to would-be PAM analysts.


2.Here, we review the signal processing techniques needed to produce calibrated measurements of terrestrial and aquatic acoustic habitats. We include a supplemental tutorial and template computer codes in MATLAB and R, which give detailed guidance on how to produce calibrated spectrograms and statistical analyses of sound levels. Key metrics and terminology for the characterisation of biotic, abiotic, and anthropogenic sound are covered, and their application to relevant monitoring scenarios is illustrated through example datasets. To inform study design and hardware selection, we also include an up-to-date overview of terrestrial and aquatic PAM instruments.


3.Monitoring of acoustic habitats at large spatiotemporal scales is becoming possible through recent advances in PAM technology. This will enhance our understanding of the role of sound in the spatial ecology of acoustically sensitive species, and inform spatial planning to mitigate the rising influence of anthropogenic noise in these ecosystems. As we demonstrate in this work, progress in these areas will depend upon the application of consistent and appropriate PAM methodologies.





Dr Nathan Merchant

Senior Scientist, Underwater Noise

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas)

Pakefield Road
Suffolk NR33 0HT


+44 (0) 1502 527780



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