Data_Sheet_1_Assessing the Role of Sampling Uncertainty When Predicting Behavioral Responses of Tagged Cetaceans Exposed to Naval Sonar.pdf (1.98 MB)
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Data_Sheet_1_Assessing the Role of Sampling Uncertainty When Predicting Behavioral Responses of Tagged Cetaceans Exposed to Naval Sonar.pdf

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posted on 04.10.2021, 04:04 by Phil J. Bouchet, Catriona M. Harris, Len Thomas

Concerns over cetacean mortality events coincident with maritime warfare exercises have motivated efforts to characterize the effects of anthropogenic noise on free-ranging whales and dolphins. By monitoring the movement, diving, and acoustic behaviors of individual whales before, during, and after sound exposure, behavioral response studies (BRSs) have supported significant progress in our understanding of the sensitivity of various cetacean species to high-powered naval sonar signals. However, differences in the designs and sampling capabilities of animal-borne tags typically used in BRS experiments prompt questions about the influence of data resolution in quantitative assessments of noise impacts. We conducted simulations to examine how uncertainty in the acoustic dose either measured on high-resolution multi-sensor biologging tags or modeled from position-transmitting satellite telemetry tags may affect predictions of behavioral responses in Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris) exposed to low- and mid-frequency active sonar. We considered an array of scenarios representative of real-world BRSs and used posterior estimates of dose-response functions obtained under an established Bayesian hierarchical modeling framework to explore the consequences of different tag choices for management decision-making. Our results indicate that (1) the zone of impact from a sonar source is under-estimated in most test conditions, (2) substantial reductions in the uncertainty surrounding dose-response relationships are possible at higher sample sizes, and (3) this largely holds true irrespective of tag choice under the scenarios considered, unless positional fixes from satellite tags are consistently poor. Strategic monitoring approaches that combine both archival biologging and satellite biotelemetry are essential for characterizing complex patterns of behavioral change in cetaceans exposed to increasing levels of acoustic disturbance. We suggest ways in which BRS protocols can be optimized to curtail the effects of uncertainty.

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