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New publication on right whale vocal compensation and communication rang

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Subject: New publication on right whale vocal compensation and communication range in noise
From: Jennifer Tennessen <>
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2016 19:08:50 +0000
Dear Colleagues,

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:

Best wishes,
Jennifer Tennessen

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

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