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MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 638:191-206 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13258

Year-round passive acoustic data reveal spatio-temporal patterns in marine mammal community composition in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica

I. Van Opzeeland1,2,*, H. Hillebrand2,3

1Ocean Acoustics Lab, Alfred-Wegener Institute (AWI), Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
2Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity (HIFMB), Carl von Ossietzky University, Oldenburg, 26129 Oldenburg, Germany
3Plankton Ecology Lab, Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM), Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, 26382 Wilhelmshaven, Germany
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: To date, the majority of studies investigating marine mammal distribution and behavior take a single-species perspective, which is often driven by the logistic difficulties of collecting appropriate data at sea. Passive acoustic monitoring, provided recording tools exhibit sufficient bandwidth, has the potential to provide insights into community structure as devices operate autonomously simultaneously collecting data on baleen, pinniped and toothed whale acoustic presence. Data can provide information on local species diversity, residency times and co-occurrence. Here, we used multi-year passive acoustic data from 6 sites in the Weddell Sea, Southern Ocean, to explore how local marine mammal community compositions develop over time and in relation to sea-ice. Diversity peaked in austral late spring and early summer, shortly before seasonal sea-ice break-up. The effective number of species exhibited little variation over time, reflecting that species remain in Antarctic waters throughout austral winter. Community composition showed almost complete seasonal overturn, indicating that species replace each other throughout the year. For all 6 sites, community dissimilarity increased with increasing temporal distance, reflecting temporal trends in community composition beyond seasonality. Several species exhibited significant positive or negative co-occurrence patterns over time. These seasonal associations were consistent across all 5 oceanic sites, but partly inversed at the Western Antarctic Peninsula recording site. This study shows that the application of biodiversity metrics to passive acoustic monitoring data can foster insights into the timing of behaviors and community composition, which can boost the interpretation of responses in the light of ongoing environmental changes.


KEY WORDS: Biodiversity change · Species composition · Richness · Passive acoustic monitoring · Marine mammals · Southern Ocean


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Cite this article as: Van Opzeeland I, Hillebrand H (2020) Year-round passive acoustic data reveal spatio-temporal patterns in marine mammal community composition in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 638:191-206. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13258

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