Comparing the Underwater Soundscapes of Four U.S. National Parks and Marine Sanctuaries

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For the week of 12 August 2019

Greetings OpenChannels Community Members,

Frontiers in Marine Science published, Comparing the Underwater Soundscapes of Four U.S. National Parks and Marine Sanctuaries.

Abstract: Passive acoustic sensors provide a cost-effective tool for monitoring marine environments. Documenting acoustic conditions among habitats can provide insights into temporal changes in ecosystem composition and anthropogenic impacts. Agencies tasked with safeguarding marine protected areas, such as the U.S. National Park Service and U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, are increasingly interested in using long-term monitoring of underwater sounds as a means of tracking species diversity and ecosystem health. In this study, low-frequency passive acoustic recordings were collected fall 2014 – spring 2018, using standardized instrumentation, from four marine protected areas across geographically disparate regions of the U.S. Economic Exclusive Zone: Northwest Atlantic, Northeast Pacific, South Pacific, and Caribbean. Recordings were analyzed for differences in seasonal conditions and to identify acoustic metrics useful for resource assessment across all sites. In addition to comparing ambient sound levels, a species common to all four sites, the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), was used to compare biological sound detection. Ambient sound levels varied across the sites and were driven by differences in animal vocalization rates, anthropogenic activity, and weather. The highest sound levels [dBRMS (50 Hz–1.5 kHz)re 1 μPa] were recorded in the Northwest Atlantic in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (Stellwagen) during the boreal winter–spring resulting from bioacoustic activity, vessel traffic, and high wind speeds. The lowest sound levels [dBRMS (50 Hz–1.5 kHz) re 1 μPa] were recorded in the Northeast Pacific adjacent to a vessel-restricted area of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (Glacier Bay) during the boreal summer. Humpback whales were detected seasonally in the southern latitude sites, and throughout the deployment periods in the northern latitude sites. Temporal trends in band and spectrum sound levels in Glacier Bay and the National Park of American Samoa were primarily driven by biological sound sources, while trends in Stellwagen and the Buck Island Reef National Monument were primarily driven by anthropogenic sources. These results highlight the variability of ambient sound conditions in marine protected areas in U.S. waters, and the utility of long-term soundscape monitoring for condition assessment in support of resource management.

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– Allie Brown, Raye Evrard, and the rest of the OpenChannels Team

Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing

OA: Njue, N. et al. Citizen science in hydrological monitoring and ecosystem services management: State of the art and future prospectsScience of The Total Environment 693, 133531 (2019).

Climate Change, Ocean Acidification, and Ocean Warming

OA: Pershing, A. J. et al. Challenges to natural and human communities from surprising ocean temperaturesProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 201901084 (2019). doi:10.1073/pnas.1901084116


OA: Price, N. N. et al. Global biogeography of coral recruitment: tropical decline and subtropical increaseMarine Ecology Progress Series 621, 1 - 17 (2019).

Food for Thought

OA: Willer, D. F., Smith, K. & Aldridge, D. C. Matches and Mismatches Between Global Conservation Efforts and Global Conservation PrioritiesFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution 7, (2019).

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

OA: Letessier, T. B. et al. Remote reefs and seamounts are the last refuges for marine predators across the Indo-PacificPLOS Biology 17, e3000366 (2019).

Natural Sciences

Preprint: Magris, R. A. & Ban, N. C. A meta‐analysis reveals global patterns of sediment effects on marine biodiversityGlobal Ecology and Biogeography(2019). doi:10.1111/geb.12990

Pollution and Marine Debris

OA: La Valle, F. F., Thomas, F. I. & Nelson, C. E. Macroalgal biomass, growth rates, and diversity are influenced by submarine groundwater discharge and local hydrodynamics in tropical reefsMarine Ecology Progress Series 621, 51 - 67 (2019).


OA: Rinkevich, . The Active Reef Restoration Toolbox is a Vehicle for Coral Resilience and Adaptation in a Changing WorldJournal of Marine Science and Engineering 7, 201 (2019).

Small-scale Fisheries

OA: Kluger, L. Clara, Kochalski, S., Aguirre-Velarde, A., Vivar, I. & Wolff, M. Coping with abrupt environmental change: the impact of the coastal El Niño 2017 on artisanal fisheries and mariculture in North PeruICES Journal of Marine Science (2018). doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsy171

Soundscapes and Acoustics

OA: Haver, S. M. et al. Comparing the Underwater Soundscapes of Four U.S. National Parks and Marine SanctuariesFrontiers in Marine Science 6, (2019).