Cetacean population density estimation from single fixed sensors using passive acoustics

Open Access Peer Reviewed Publication 2011

Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

Passive acoustic methods are increasingly being used to estimate animal population density. Most density estimation methods are based on estimates of the probability of detecting calls as functions of distance. Typically these are obtained using receivers capable of localizing calls or from studies of tagged animals. However, both approaches are expensive to implement. The approach described here uses a MonteCarlo model to estimate the probability of detecting calls from single sensors. The passive sonar equation is used to predict signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs) of received clicks, which are then combined with a detector characterization that predicts probability of detection as a function of SNR. Input distributions for source level, beam pattern, and whale depth are obtained from the literature. Acoustic propagation modeling is used to estimate transmission loss. Other inputs for density estimation are call rate, obtained from the literature, and false positive rate, obtained from manual analysis of a data sample. The method is applied to estimate density of Blainville’s beaked whales over a 6-day period around a single hydrophone located in the Tongue of the Ocean, Bahamas. Results are consistent with those from previous analyses, which use additional tag data.

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