Humans, Fish, and Whales: How Right Whales Modify Calling Behavior in Response to Shifting Background Noise Conditions
This study investigates the role of behavioral plasticity in the variation of sound production of southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) in response to changes in the ambient background noise conditions. Data were collected from southern right whales in Brazilian waters in October and November 2011. The goal of this study was to quantify differences in right whale vocalizations recorded in low background noise as a control, fish chorus noise, and vessel noise. Variation in call parameters were detected among the three background noise conditions and have implications for future studies of noise effects on whale sound production.
KeywordsRight whale Eubalaena australis Noise Vocal modification
Funding for this study was provided by the Office of Naval Research. Permits for acoustic data collection in Brazil were obtained through a scientific expedition process to Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cientifico e Tecnologico (CNPq; the Brazilian government agency that issues such permits) by Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, with the collaboration of Projeto Baleia Franca, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, and Centro Nacional de Pesquisa e Conservação de Mamíferos Aquáticos, the Brazilian counterparts for this study. The scientific permit to collect inside a protected area was issued to K. R. Groch, Paulo A. C. Flores, and Renata S. Sousa-Lima (ICMBio SISBIO No. 29774-1). C. Hotchkin provided technical support for the field data collection, and T. Pucylowski, J. Bonti, A. Tinsley, and D. Cusano assisted with the acoustic analysis.
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