Effects of underwater noise


These are studies of how human-caused noise affects the behaviour, health and survival of animals. One example are sound exposure experiments and behavioural response studies (BRS) which have become an important approach in applied ecology for quantifying the behavioural response of animals to human-induced disturbance. In recent years, much of the research within the marine environment related to behavioural response has focused on marine mammals, in particular cetaceans and their potential vulnerability to disturbance by naval sonar.

Population consequences of disturbance

The next step is to understand the ways in which responses may result in long-term impacts to individuals and populations. Between 2009 and 2015, a working group developed a mathematical framework for assessing the population consequences of disturbance (PCoD). The group considered case studies that span the marine mammal taxonomic groups and reproductive strategies. These case studies pick up where BRS leave off, by quantifying the potential chronic effects of behavioural responses on individual health, and ultimately on population dynamics.

In a study on grey and harbour seals in the UK, we assessed the risks of shipping noise to seal populations and the exposure to noise of the individual seals.

These are scientific experiments to test the response of animals to human-caused sounds. Behavioural response studies (BRSs) are experiments aimed at directly quantifying the relationship between potential anthropogenic disturbances and their effect on specific marine mammals. The US Navy is making a substantial investment in BRS studies, aimed at understanding the effect of active sonar on species of concern. Studying these species in ecologically valid settings often requires field experiments. BRS studies are difficult and expensive to conduct, and so sample sizes are necessarily small. Traditional statistical methods for analysis, based on null models and hypothesis testing, do not make best use of the available data, and make it hard to represent accurately the complexity of BRS experimental protocols. We therefore have been developing and implementing innovative statistical methodologies for the analysis of behavioural response study data.

Related Publications

DeRuiter, S.L., Langrock, R., Skirbutas, T., Friedlaender, A.S., Goldbogen J.A., Calambokidis, J. & Southall, B.L. (In press) A multivariate mixed hidden Markov model for blue whale behavior and responses to sound exposure. Annals of Applied Statistics.

Donovan CR, Harris CM, Milazzo L, Harwood J, Marshall L, Williams R. 2017. A simulation approach to assessing environmental risk of sound exposure to marine mammals. Ecol Evol. 00:1-11.

Popov, V., Langrock, R., DeRuiter, S.L, Visser, F. (In press) An analysis of pilot whale vocalization activity using hidden Markov models. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

Quick, N.J., Scott-Hayward, L., Sadykova, D., Nowacek, D. & Read, A. (In press) Effects of a scientific echo sounder on the behavior of short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Quick NJ, Isojunno S, Sadykova D, Bowers M, Nowacek D and Read A. (In press) Hidden Markov Models reveal complexity in the diving behavior of short-finned pilot whales. Scientific Reports.

Sivle, L.D., Wensveen, P. J., Kvadsheim, P. H., Lam, F-P. A., Visser, F., Curé, C., Harris, C. M., Tyack, P. L., & Miller, P. (In review) Naval sonar disrupts foraging in humpback whales. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 562, 211-220. doi: 10.3354/meps11969

Aguilar De Soto N, Gkikopoulou K, Hooker S, Isojunno S, Johnson M, Miller P et al. 2016. From physiology to policy: a review of physiological noise effects on marine fauna with implications for mitigation. Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics. 27(1). 040008. Available from DOI: 10.1121/2.0000299

Harris, C.M., Thomas, L., Sadykova, D., DeRuiter, S.L., Tyack, P.L., Southall, B.L., Read, A.J. & Miller, P.J.O. 2016. The Challenges of Analyzing Behavioral Response Study Data: An Overview of the MOCHA (Multi-study OCean acoustics Human effects Analysis) Project. In: Popper, A. N. and Hawkins, A. eds. 2015. The Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life II. Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, New York.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Approaches to Understanding the Cumulative Effects of Stressors on Marine Mammals. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Curé, C., Doksaeter-Sivle, L., Visser, F., Wensveen, P.J., Isojunno, S., Harris, C.M., Kvadsheim, P., Lam, F.P.A. & Miller, P.J.O. 2015. Predator sound playbacks reveal strong avoidance responses in a fight strategist baleen whale. Marine Ecology Progress Series 526, 267-282.

Harris, C.M., Sadykova, D., DeRuiter, S.L., Tyack, P.L., Miller, P., Kvadsheim, P., Lam, F.P. & Thomas, L. 2015. Dose response severity functions for acoustic disturbance in cetaceans using recurrent event survival analysis. Ecosphere, 6(11), 236

Miller P.J.O., Kvadsheim, P.H., Lam, F.-P.A., Tyack, P.L., Curé, C., DeRuiter, S.L., Kleivane, L., Sivle, L.D., van IJsselmuide, S.P., Visser, F., Wensveen, P.J. & Hooker, S.K. 2015. First indications that northern bottlenose whales are highly sensitive to noise disturbance. Royal Society Open Science, 2, 140484.

Sivle, L.D., Kvadsheim, P.H., Curé, C., Isojunno, S., Wensveen, P.J., Lam, F.P.A., Visser, F., Kleivane, L., Tyack, P.L., Harris, C.M. & Miller, P.J.O. 2015. Severity of Expert-Identified Behavioral Responses of Humpback Whale, Minke Whale and Northern Bottlenose Whale to Naval Sonar. Aquatic Mammals. 41, 4, p. 469-502

Stimpert, A.K., Goldbogen, J.A., DeRuiter, S.L., Southall, B.L., Moretti, D.J., Falcone, E.A., Schorr, G.S., Friedlaender, A.S., Calambokidis, J. & Tyack, P.L. 2015. Sound production and associated behavior of tagged fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) in the Southern California Bight. Animal Telemetry 3, 23.

Antunes, A., Kvadsheim, P.H., Lam, F.P.A., Tyack, P.L., Thomas, L., Wensveen P.J. & Miller. P.J.O. 2014. High thresholds for avoidance of sonar by free-ranging long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas). Marine Pollution Bulletin, 83(1), 165-180.

Goldbogen, J.A., Stimpert, A.K., DeRuiter, S.L., Calambokdis, J., Friedlaender, A.S., Schorr, G.S., Moretti, D.J., Tyack, P.L. & Southall, B. L. 2014. Using accelerometers to determine the calling behavior of tagged baleen whales. Journal of Experimental Biology, 21, 2449-55.

Miller, P.J.O., Antunes, R.N., Wensveen, P.J., Samarra, F.I.P., Alves, A. C., Kvadsheim, P.H., Kleivane, L., Lam, F.-P.A., Ainsle, M.A., Tyack P.L. & Thomas, L. 2014. Dose-response relationships for the onset of avoidance of sonar by free-ranging killer whales. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 135, 975.

New, L.F., Clark, J.S., Costa, D. P., Fleishman, E., Hindell, M.A., Klanjscek, T., Lusseau, D., Kraus, S., McMahon, C.R., Robinson, P.W., Schick, R.S., Schwarz, L.K., Simmons, S.E., Thomas, L, Tyack, P. & Harwood, J. 2014. Using short-term measures of behaviour to estimate long-term fitness of southern elephant seals. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 496, 99-108.

Stimpert, A.K., DeRuiter, S.L., Southall, B.L., Moretti, D.J., Falcone, E.A., Goldbogen, J.A., Friedlaender, A.S., Schorr, G.S. & Calambokidis, J.A. 2014. Acoustic and foraging behavior of a tagged Baird's beaked whale (Berardius bairdii) exposed to simulated sonar. Scientific Reports 4, Article number 7031. doi:10.1038/srep07031

Visser F., Miller P.J.O., Antunes R.N., Oudejans M.G., MacKenzie M.L., Aoki K., Lam F.P.A., Kvadsheim P.H., Huisman J. & Tyack, P.L. 2014. The social context of individual foraging behavior in long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas). Behavior, 151, 1453-1477

DeRuiter, S.L., Southall, B.L., Calambokidis, J., Zimmer, W.M.X., Sadykova, D., Falcone, E.A., Friedlaender, A.S., Joseph, J.E., Moretti, D., Schorr, G.S., Thomas, L. & Tyack, P.L. 2013. First direct measurements of behavioral responses by Cuvier's beaked whales to mid-frequency active (MFA) sonar. Biology Letters, 9, 20130223.

Goldbogen, J.A., Southall, B.L., DeRuiter, S.L., Calambokidis, J., Friedlaender, A.S., Hazen, E.L., Falcone, E.A., Schorr, G.S., Douglas, A., Moretti, D.J., Kyburg, C., McKenna, M.F. & Tyack, P.L. 2013. Blue whales respond to simulated mid-frequency military sonar. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 280(1765), 20130657. doi:10.1098/rspb.2013.0657

New, L.F., Harwood, J., Thomas, L., Donovan, C., Clark, J.S., Hastie, G., Thompson, P.M., Cheney, B., Scott- Hayward, L. & Lusseau, D. 2013. Modelling the biological significance of behavioural change in coastal bottlenose dolphins in response to disturbance. Functional Ecology, 27, 314-322

Southall, B.L., Moretti, D.J., Abraham, B., Calambokidis, J., DeRuiter, S.L. & Tyack, P.L. 2012. Marine mammal behavioral response studies in southern California: Advances in technology and experimental methods. Marine Technology Society Journal, 46(4), 46-59.

Related Links

MOCHA Project Site

Research by Dr. Len Thomas

Research by Dr. Catriona Harris

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