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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 533:93-107 (2015)  -  DOI:

Coral reef species assemblages are associated with ambient soundscapes

Maxwell B. Kaplan1,2,*, T. Aran Mooney1, Jim Partan3, Andrew R. Solow4

1Biology Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA
2MIT/WHOI Joint Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
3Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA
4Marine Policy Center, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Coral reefs provide a wide array of ecosystem services and harbor some of the highest levels of biodiversity on the planet, but many reefs are in decline worldwide. Tracking changes is necessary for effective resource management. Biological sounds have been suggested as a means to quantify ecosystem health and biodiversity, but this requires an understanding of natural bioacoustic variability and relationships to the taxa present. This investigation sought to characterize spatial and temporal variation in biological sound production within and among reefs that varied in their species assemblages. Multiple acoustic recorders were deployed for intensive 24 h periods and longer-term (~4 mo) duty-cycled deployments on 3 reefs that varied in coral cover and fish density. Short-term results suggest that while there were statistically significant acoustic differences among recorders on a given reef, these differences were relatively small, indicating that a single sensor may be suitable for acoustic characterization of reefs. Analyses of sounds recorded over  approximately 4 mo indicated that the strength of diel trends in a low frequency fish band (100 to 1000 Hz) was correlated with coral cover and fish density but the strength of high-frequency snapping shrimp (2 to 20 kHz) trends was not, suggesting that low-frequency recordings may be better indicators of the species assemblages present. Power spectra varied within reefs over the deployment periods, underscoring the need for long-duration recordings to characterize these trends. These findings suggest that, in spite of considerable spatial and temporal variability within reef soundscapes, diel trends in low-frequency sound production correlate with reef species assemblages.

KEY WORDS: Bioacoustics · Biodiversity · Fishes · Sound production

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Cite this article as: Kaplan MB, Mooney TA, Partan J, Solow AR (2015) Coral reef species assemblages are associated with ambient soundscapes. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 533:93-107.

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