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MEPS prepress abstract   -  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 Opzeeland*, H. Hillebrand

*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 use 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, recognizing 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 and between all five oceanic sites, but partly inversed at the Western Antarctic Peninsula recording site. This study shows that the application of biodiversity metrics to PAM data can foster insights to the timing of behaviors and community composition, which can boost the interpretation of responses in the light of ongoing environmental changes.