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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 13:163-172 (2011)  -  DOI:

Estimating North Pacific right whale Eubalaena japonica density using passive acoustic cue counting

Tiago A. Marques1,2,*, Lisa Munger3, Len Thomas1, Sean Wiggins3, John A. Hildebrand

1Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling, The Observatory, Buchanan Gardens, University of St Andrews, St Andrews KY16 9LZ, UK
2Centro de Estatística e Aplicações da Universidade de Lisboa, Bloco C6, Piso 4, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal
3Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, California 92093-0205, USA

ABSTRACT: We present a method for estimating animal density from fixed passive acoustic detectors, and illustrate it by estimating the density of North Pacific right whales Eubalaena japonica in the areas surrounding 3 hydrophones deployed in the southeastern Bering Sea in 2001 to 2002 and 2005 to 2006. Input data were the distances to detected right whale calls, estimated using a normal mode sound propagation model, and call production rate, estimated from encounters by survey vessels with right whale groups. Given the scarcity of information about this highly endangered species, we also extrapolate our results to provide a tentative estimate of the total population size in shelf waters of the eastern Bering Sea. This gives a point estimate of 25 animals (CV 29.1%; 95% confidence interval 13–47), which agrees well with what little is known for this species. We discuss the assumptions underlying the method. Obtaining more reliable values requires a larger sample of randomly located hydrophones, together with improved estimates of call rate.

KEY WORDS: Bering Sea · Point transects · Distance sampling · Normal mode propagation · Abundance estimation · Acoustic recording package · ARP · High frequency acoustic package · HARP

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Cite this article as: Marques TA, Munger L, Thomas L, Wiggins S, Hildebrand JA (2011) Estimating North Pacific right whale Eubalaena japonica density using passive acoustic cue counting. Endang Species Res 13:163-172.

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