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New publication in Global Change Biology on how vessel noise cuts down c

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Subject: New publication in Global Change Biology on how vessel noise cuts down communication space
From: Rosalyn Putland <>
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2017 13:07:08 +0000

Please circulate the following to the Bioacoustics Mailing List

Dear All,

We are pleased to announce that the following paper has been published which may be of interest to those on the Bioacoustics Mailing List.

Putland, R.L., Merchant, N.D., Farcas, A., Radford, C.A. (2017) Vessel noise cuts down communication space for vocalizing fish and marine mammals. Global Change Biology. Advanced Online Publication 12 December 2017. 1365-2486


Anthropogenic noise across the world’s oceans threatens the ability of vocalizing marine species to communicate. Some species vocalize at key life stages or whilst foraging, and disruption to the acoustic habitat at these times could lead to adverse consequences at the population level. To investigate the risk of these impacts, we investigated the effect of vessel noise on the communication space of the Bryde’s whale Balaenoptera edeni, an endangered species which vocalizes at low frequencies, and bigeye Pempheris adspersa, a nocturnal fish species which uses contact calls to maintain group cohesion while foraging. By combining long-term acoustic monitoring data with AIS vessel-tracking data and acoustic propagation modelling, the impact of vessel noise on their communication space was determined. Routine vessel passages cut down communication space by up to 61.5% for bigeyes and 87.4% for Bryde’s whales. This influence of vessel noise on communication space exceeded natural variability for between 3.9 and 18.9% of the monitoring period. Additionally, during the closest point of approach of a large commercial vessel, < 10 km from the listening station, the communication space of both species was reduced by a maximum of 99% compared to the ambient soundscape. These results suggest that vessel noise reduces communication space beyond the evolutionary context of these species and may have chronic effects on these populations. To combat this risk, we propose the application or extension of ship speed restrictions in ecologically significant areas, since our results indicate a reduction in sound source levels for vessels transiting at lower speeds.

Best regards,

Rosalyn Putland

Leigh Marine Laboratory

Institute of Marine Science

University of Auckland

Rosalyn Putland
Institute of Marine Science
Leigh Marine Laboratory
University of Auckland
PO BOX 349
Warkworth, 0941
New Zealand

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