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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Studying soundscapes can provide acoustic behavior measurements at multiple levels of biological complexity at fine spatial and temporal scales. Illustration: C. Mueller

Mueller C, Monczak A, Soueidan J, McKinney B, Smott S, Mills T, Ji Y, Montie EW


Sound characterization and fine-scale spatial mapping of an estuarine soundscape in the southeastern USA


Estuaries are areas known for biological diversity, and their soundscapes reflect the acoustic signals used by organisms to communicate, defend territories, reproduce, and forage in an underwater environment that has limited visibility. Mueller and coauthors investigated the temporal and spatial variability of sounds in a tidal creek and an adjacent saltwater impoundment in South Carolina, USA. Fixed platforms revealed that sound pressure levels were significantly higher in the creek compared to the impoundment. In the creek, snapping shrimp, oyster toadfish, and spotted seatrout sounds followed distinct temporal rhythms, while these patterns were absent in the impoundment. In the tidal creek, mobile platforms detected acoustic hotspots of biological sounds. Listening to soundscapes may provide an additional gauge in understanding estuarine health.


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