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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 649:35-51 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13434

Soundscapes of natural and artificial temperate reefs: similar temporal patterns but distinct spectral content

Rebecca V. Van Hoeck1,*, Avery B. Paxton2,3, DelWayne R. Bohnenstiehl4, J. Christopher Taylor3, F. Joel Fodrie5, Douglas P. Nowacek6, Christine M. Voss5, Charles H. Peterson5

1Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 120 South Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA
2CSS Inc., 10301 Democracy Lane, Suite 300 Fairfax, VA 22030, USA
3National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 101 Pivers Island Road, Beaufort, NC 28516, USA
4Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences and Center for Geospatial Analytics, North Carolina State University, 2800 Faucette Dr., Raleigh, NC 27607, USA
5Institute of Marine Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 3431 Arendell Street, Morehead City, NC 28557, USA
6Nicholas School of the Environment & Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University Marine Lab, 135 Duke Marine Lab Road, Beaufort, NC 28516, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Marine soundscapes often differ among habitats; however, relatively little is known about whether soundscapes on naturally occurring habitats differ from soundscapes on human-made structures. To address this knowledge gap, we investigated whether temporal and spectral characteristics of biological sound production differ between natural and artificial offshore reefs. Specifically, we analyzed recordings from 5 week-long hydrophone deployments on 2 natural rocky reefs and 2 artificial reefs on the North Carolina, USA, continental shelf. Analysis of sound pressure levels (SPLs) on hourly and seasonal scales revealed similar temporal patterns between the reef types. These patterns were largely driven by 4 dominant fish vocalizers with seasonal chorusing patterns, including a toadfish Opsanus sp. Despite similar temporal patterns within reef types, soundscape spectral content was more similar within than between reef types, especially during the April deployment, which had the most acoustic activity. Our findings suggest that the soundscapes of shipwreck artificial reefs may differ from the soundscapes of natural rocky reefs, possibly due to differing community composition. As sound plays an important role in the navigation and settlement of many marine species, soundscape differences between natural and artificial habitats could affect ecosystem function through species behavior and interactions.


KEY WORDS: Marine soundscape · Artificial reef · Temperate reef · Spectral dissimilarity index · Bioacoustics


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Cite this article as: Van Hoeck RV, Paxton AB, Bohnenstiehl DR, Taylor JC and others (2020) Soundscapes of natural and artificial temperate reefs: similar temporal patterns but distinct spectral content. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 649:35-51. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13434

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