[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To improve our understanding of the complex genetic and ecological structure of bottlenose dolphin ( Tursiops truncatus ) populations, we examined the acoustic features of communication signals from two geographically contiguous areas: the Central–Eastern North Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. Variations in the whistles were evaluated for four locations. Ten signal parameters were measured and used to statistically differentiate between the areas. Over 79 % of sightings were correctly classified by discriminant function analysis, confirming an acoustic differentiation between the two basins. The results of cluster analysis using the mean values of the parameters for each sighting showed that the three easternmost sightings from the Mediterranean and one sighting from the Canary archipelago formed a separate cluster from the rest of the Atlantic. The two sightings from the Alboran Sea in the west Mediterranean were grouped with the Atlantic recordings. There was more variability in whistles from the Atlantic Ocean consistent with data from genetic and photo-identification studies that document resident and non-resident animals in the area. The results suggest that the Alboran area may be inhabited by animals differentiated from the rest of the Mediterranean basin as a result of habitat features.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Acoustic signals are expressions of phenotypic diversity and their variation could provide important information on differentiation patterns within species. Due to a number of selective pressures acting on signals, the contribution of genetic drift is often complex to outline. This study aims at evaluating if an examination of the acoustic structure of communication signals can allow the identification of evolutionary units in species capable of vocal learning. We quantified and compared parameters of whistles emitted by three dolphin species (Stenella coeruleoalba, Delphinus delphis, and Tursiops truncatus) to examine the hypothesis that acoustic signals permit the recognition of differentiation between populations from the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. In the three species, recordings were correctly assigned to their basin of origin with a percentage higher than 82% by DFA. Frequency parameters were the most stable within each species. Where gene flow has been shown, i.e., within Atlantic Ocean, significant differences were found principally in modulation parameters. We hypothesize that these parameters are influenced by social and behavioral factors and that similar ecological conditions led to convergent acoustic features. Results of this study suggest that is it possible to recognize evolutionary units based on acoustic data.
The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 04/2014; 135(4):2241. · 1.65 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Acoustic observation can complement visual observation to more effectively monitor occurrence and distribution of marine mammals. For effective acoustic censuses, calibration methods must be determined by joint visual and acoustic studies. Research is still needed in the field of acoustic species identification, particularly for smaller odontocetes. From 1994 to 2012, whistles of four odontocete species were recorded in different areas of the Mediterranean Sea to determine how reliably these vocalizations can be classified to species. Recordings were attributed to species by simultaneous visual observation. The results of this study highlight that the frequency parameters, which are linked to physical features of animals, show lower variability than modulation parameters, which are likely to be more dependent on complex eco-ethological contexts. For all the studied species, minimum and maximum frequencies were linearly correlated with body size. DFA and Classification Tree Analysis (CART) show that these parameters were the most important for classifying species; however, both statistical methods highlighted the need for combining them with the number of contour minima and contour maxima for correct classification. Generally, DFA and CART results reflected both phylogenetic distance (especially for common and striped dolphins) and the size of the species.
The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 01/2014; 135(1):502-12. · 1.65 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genetic studies have shown that there are small but significant differences between the short-beaked common dolphin populations in the Atlantic Ocean and those in the Mediterranean Sea. The short-beaked common dolphin is a highly vocal species with a wide sound production repertoire including whistles. Whistles are continuous, narrowband, frequency-modulated signals that can show geographic variation in dolphin species. This study tests whether the differences, highlighted by genetic studies, are recognisable in the acoustic features of short-beaked common dolphin’s whistles in the two adjacent areas of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. From a selected sample of good quality whistles (514 recorded
in the Atlantic and 193 in the Mediterranean) 10 parameters of duration, frequency and frequency modulation were measured. Comparing data among basins, differences were found for duration and all frequency parameters except for minimum frequency. Modulation parameters showed the highest coefficient of variation. Through discriminant analysis we correctly assigned 75.7% of sounds to their basins. Furthermore, micro-geographic analysis revealed similarity between the sounds recorded around the Azores and the Canary archipelagos and between the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean Sea. Results are in agreement with the hypothesis proposed by previous genetic studies that two distinct populations are present, still supposing a gene flow between the basins. This study is the first to compare shortbeaked common dolphin’s whistles of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean areas.
Ethology Ecology and Evolution 01/2014; 26(4):392-404. · 1.12 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The striped dolphin is a cosmopolitan species distributed worldwide. Morphological and genetic studies strongly suggest that the Mediterranean and eastern North Atlantic populations are isolated from each other. The Mediterranean population is considered a distinct conservation unit by International Union for the Conservation of Nature experts, classified as "vulnerable." This study describes the geographical variation of the striped dolphin whistles within the Mediterranean Sea. Recordings were collected from 1996 to 2003 throughout the basin, employing multiple platforms. Thirty-seven independent sightings with acoustic data collection were made, and 599 whistles were extracted and considered for statistical analysis. Whistle analysis enabled the identification of sub-populations of striped dolphins within the Mediterranean Sea. The acoustic diversity observed reflects the genetic differences recently found among striped dolphins inhabiting different Mediterranean regions. The results of this study support the hypothesis that gene flow reduction plays an important role in determining variation in whistle duration and frequency parameters, while ecological and social factors influence parameters of the modulation domains. The ability to acoustically identify distinct geographic sub-populations could provide a useful tool for the management of this protected species.
The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 07/2013; 134(1):694-705. · 1.65 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Geographic variation in the acoustic features of whistles emitted by the striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) from the Atlantic Ocean (Azores and Canary Islands) and the Mediterranean was investigated. Ten parameters (signal duration, beginning, end, minimum and maximum frequency, the number of inflection points, of steps, of minima and maxima in the contour and the frequency range) were extracted from each whistle. Discriminant function analysis correctly classified 73% of sounds between Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. A cline in parameters was apparent from the Azores to the Mediterranean, with a major difference between the Canaries and the Mediterranean than between Azores and Canaries. Signal duration, maximum frequency, and frequency range measured in the Mediterranean sample were significantly lower compared to those measured in the Atlantic. Modulation parameters played a considerable role in area discrimination and were the only parameters contributing to highlight the differences within the Atlantic Ocean. Results suggest that the acoustic features constrained by structural phenotype, such as whistle's frequency parameters, have a major effect on the Atlantic and Mediterranean separation while behavioral context, social, and physical environment may be among the main factors contributing to local distinctiveness of Atlantic areas. These results have potential passive acoustic monitoring applications.
The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 02/2013; 133(2):1126-1134. · 1.65 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Oceanic odontocetes rely on echolocation to forage on pelagic or benthic prey, but their feeding ecology is difficult to study. We studied sperm whale foraging dives during summer in the north-western Mediterranean, using visual and passive acoustic observations. Clicking and creaking activities were recorded during dives of focal whales, at distances <3000 m using a towed hydrophone and DAT recorder. A total of 52 sperm whales were recorded over at least one full dive cycle. Data were obtained for 156 complete dives in total, including sequences of up to nine consecutive dives. Various dive and environmental variables were entered in multiple linear regression and principal components analysis, as well as estimated mass of whales. Creak rate was 0.80 creak/minute on average, with moderate variance. Bigger whales tended to dive longer at greater depths (as suggested by ascent durations), and emitted more creaks during a dive: 20.2 creaks/dive on average for individuals <24 tons, compared to 25.6 creaks/dive for animals >24 tons of estimated mass. For individual whales, creak rates did not vary significantly with size (range 0.78–0.80 creak/minute), but decreased with time of the day, and increased for shorter foraging phases. For different dives, higher creak rates were also observed earlier in the day, and linked to shorter foraging phases and surface durations. Although the exact significance of creak emissions (i.e. foraging attempt or prey capture) is not precisely determined, creak rates may be reliably used to quantify sperm whale foraging when single animal dives can be followed acoustically.
Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK 12/2012; 92(08). · 1.02 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT: The development of synoptic tools is required to derive the potential habitat of fin
whales Balaenoptera physalus on a large-scale basis in the Mediterranean Sea, as the species has
a largely unknown distribution and is at high risk of ship strike. We propose a foraging habitat
model for fin whales in the western Mediterranean Sea relying on species ecology for the choice
of predictors. The selected environmental variables are direct predictors and resource predictors
available at daily and basin scales. Feeding habitat was determined mainly from the simultaneous
occurrence of large oceanic fronts of satellite-derived sea-surface chlorophyll content (chl a) and
temperature (SST). A specific range of surface chl a content (0.11 to 0.39 mg m−3) and a minimum
water depth (92 m) were also identified to be important regional criteria. Daily maps were calibrated
and evaluated against independent sets of fin whale sightings (presence data only). Specific
chl a fronts represented the main predictor of feeding environment; therefore, derived habitat
is a potential, rather than effective, habitat, but is functionally linked to a proxy of its resource (chl a
production of fronts). The model performs well, with 80% of the presence data <9.7 km from the
predicted potential habitat. The computed monthly, seasonal and annual maps of potential feeding
habitat from 2000 to 2010 correlate, for the most part, with current knowledge on fin whale
ecology. Overall, fin whale potential habitat occurs frequently during summer in dynamic areas of
the general circulation, and is substantially more spread over the basin in winter. However, the
results also displayed high year-to-year variations (40 to 50%), which are essential to consider
when assessing migration patterns and recommending protection and conservation measures.
Marine Ecology Progress Series 09/2012; 464:289-306. · 2.64 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study focuses on the necessary elements to implement strategic mitigation in order to avoid Cuvier's beaked whale (CBW) strandings linked to intense sound sources, such as military active sonars, in the Mediterranean Sea. A careful review of stranding data and the analysis of existing survey results are required to highlight the main characters of the species regional distribution. Focused and repeated surveys are needed to confirm that possible favourable areas, such as the Balearic, Tyrrhenian or Aegean Seas, are really favourable CBW habitats. These surveys should be carried out with sea states 0 to 1 in order to minimize the risk of false absence data. Among the regions of interest, the central Tyrrhenian Sea was surveyed with a 12 m sailboat in 2007 and 2008. With 907 km of effective effort, a mean sighting rate of 1.9 CBW school/100 km was obtained, which is amongst the highest densities recorded in the Mediterranean.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Whistles from five delphinid species in the western Mediterranean Sea (Stenella coeruleoalba, Grampus griseus, Delphinus delphis, Tursiops truncatus, Globicephala melas) were taken from GREC sound archives. FFT contours (window size 512, Hanning, sampling frequency 44.1 kHz) were extracted with custom developed Matlab software: 277 samples of striped dolphins (Sc), 158 whistles of Risso’s dolphins (Gg), 120 of common dolphins (Dd), 76 of bottlenose dolphins (Tt), and 66 of pilot whales (Gm) were selected. Seafox software extracted 15 variables from the digitized contours, including: duration, initial, final, maximal and minimal frequency slopes, frequency range, number of frequency extrema, beginning, ending, maximal and minimal frequencies, presence of harmonics. Four of five species were significantly different (Mann–Whitney test) for average durations (respectively 0.73, 0.65, 0.47 and 0.89 s for Sc, Gg, Dd, Gm) while the average duration of bottlenose dolphins was 0.71 s. Frequency ranges (respectively 7.3, 6.3, 4.6, 3.2 and 6.3 kHz) were significantly different for all species pairs, with the exception of bottlenose and Risso’s dolphins. From a global point of view, pilot whale calls were the most distinct, with 43 significant pair-wise tests out of a total of 52, followed by the common dolphins. Risso’s dolphins were closest to other species whistles. A CART classification method achieved a global classification rate of 62.9%.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Small boat surveys were organized to study cetaceans of the Marquesas (9°S and 140°W) and the Society Islands (17°S and 150°W) in French Polynesia. Prospecting took place from 12–15 m sailboats, between 1996 and 2001 with systematic visual searching. Boats moved according to sea conditions, at a mean speed of 10 km/h. Effective effort of 4856 km in the Marquesas and 10,127 km in the Societies were logged. Relative abundance indices were processed for odontocetes using data obtained with Beaufort 4 or less. In the Marquesas, 153 on-effort sightings were obtained on 10 delphinids species including the spotted dolphin, spinner dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, melon-headed whale and rough-toothed dolphin. In the Societies, 153 sightings of 12 odontocetes included delphinids (spinner, rough-toothed and bottlenose dolphins, short-finned pilot and melon-headed whales, Fraser's dolphin, Risso's dolphin and pygmy killer whale) and two species of beaked whales, the sperm whale and dwarf sperm whale. Relative abundance indices were higher in the Marquesas than in the Societies both inshore (0.93 ind/km2 against 0.36 ind/km2) and offshore (0.28 ind/km2 against 0.14 ind/km2). Differences in remote-sensed primary production were equally important, the Marquesas waters featuring an annual average of 409 mgC.m−2 · day−1 and the Societies of only 171 mgC · m−2 · day−1. The presence of a narrow shelf around the Marquesas also accounted for differences in odontocete populations, in particular the delphinids.
Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK 07/2009; 89(05):931 - 941. · 1.02 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cetaceans are mobile and spend long periods underwater. Because of this, modelling their habitat could be subject to a serious problem of false absence. Furthermore, extensive surveys at sea are time and money consuming, and presence–absence data are difficult to apply. This study compares the ability of two presence–absence and two presence-only habitat modelling methods and uses the example of the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea. The data consist of summer visual and acoustical detections of sperm whales, compiled between 1998 and 2005. Habitat maps were computed using topographical and hydrological eco-geographical variables. Four methods were compared: principal component analysis (PCA), ecological niche factor analysis (ENFA), generalized linear model (GLM) and multivariate adaptive regression splines (MARS). The evaluation of the models was achieved by calculating the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) of the models and their respective area under the curve (AUC). Presence–absence methods (GLM, AUC=0.70, and MARS, AUC=0.79) presented better AUC than presence-only methods (PCA, AUC=0.58, and ENFA, AUC=0.66), but this difference was not statistically significant, except between the MARS and the PCA models. The four models showed an influence of both topographical and hydrological factors, but the resulting habitat suitability maps differed. The core habitat on the continental slope was well highlighted by the four models, while GLM and MARS maps also showed a suitable habitat in the offshore waters. Presence–absence methods are therefore recommended for modelling the habitat suitability of cetaceans, as they seem more accurate to highlight complex habitat. However, the use of presence-only techniques, in particular ENFA, could be very useful for a first model of the habitat range or when important surveys at sea are not possible.
Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers. 01/2009;
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Whistles from three delphinid species (Stenella coeruleoalba, Grampus griseus, Delphinus delphis) commonly observed in pelagic waters of the western Mediterranean Sea were taken from GREC sound archives. FFT contours (window size 512, hanning, sampling frequency 44.1 kHz) were extracted with a custom developed Matlab software: 277 samples of striped dolphins (northwestern basin), 158 of Risso's dolphin and 120 of common dolphins were selected. Fifteen variables were extracted from the contours, including: duration, frequency range, number of frequency extrema, beginning, ending, maximal and minimal frequencies, initial, final, maximal and minimal frequency slopes, presence of harmonics. All three species were significantly different (Mann-Whitney test) for average durations (respectively 0.72, 0.65 and 0.47 sec.), frequency ranges (respectively 7296, 6365 and 4622 Hz) and max frequencies. Initial and final slopes were significant to discriminate common dolphins from the two other species. Beginning and minimal frequencies were significantly different for striped dolphins and other species. A discriminant analysis was carried out and showed that two species could be discriminated with a good confidence level (chi<sup>2</sup> test, alpha = 0.05).
New Trends for Environmental Monitoring Using Passive Systems, 2008; 11/2008
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A total of 17,651 km of sailboat survey effort obtained with very good sighting conditions was pooled over the period 1995 to 2007 to provide an insight into Cuvier's beaked whales' (Ziphius cavirostris) distribution in the western and central Mediterranean Sea. Although only six confirmed sightings were obtained under such conditions, complementary sightings made a total of eleven confirmed records. Their distribution showed that only slope habitat, and its close proximity, was favourable to the species. In contrast to regions pointed out in the recent literature, such as the Alboran, Ligurian and Ionian Seas, it appeared that the Tyrrhenian Sea was likely to be an important area for Cuvier's beaked whales in the Mediterranean. Sighting rates of 0.1–0.25 sighting/100 km and sighting rates for individuals of 0.2–0.5 individual/100 km were obtained in favourable regions. When compared to sighting rates obtained on Risso's dolphins Grampus griseus during the same surveys, the Cuvier's beaked whale appeared to be quite a frequent species in its favoured habitats. The present study contributes a better knowledge of this poorly-known species, in the context of increasing and threatening anthropogenic noises.
Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK 08/2008; 88(06):1245 - 1251. · 1.02 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Laran, S. and Gannier, A. 2008. Spatial and temporal prediction of fin whale distribution in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea. – ICES Journal of Marine Science, 65: 1260–1269. Understanding the distribution of the cetaceans is crucial to improving their conservation. Therefore, a prediction model of fin whale’s ( Balaenoptera physalus ) summer distribution was developed from data collected between May and August, in the Pelagos Mediterranean Marine Mammals Sanctuary. Explanatory variables were selected by multiple logistic regression, among several physiographic and oceanographic parameters. Depth, chlorophyll (Chl a ) concentration, and sea surface temperature (SST) were selected for characterizing fin whale presence. Remote sensing imagery (Chl a and SST) was used at an 8-d resolution to capture short-term environmental variability. With the selection of a presence/absence threshold by the receiver operating characteristic curve, a correct classification of 70% (49% for presence, 85% for absence) was achieved for the initial dataset. Model reliability was also tested on an independent dataset, collected in the northwestern Basin; a correct classification of 71% (41% for presence prediction, 86% for absence prediction) was obtained. This study contributes to an understanding of where fin whales might concentrate to feed in summer. Weekly predictions of their distribution represent a valuable conservation tool in a marine protected area, for example to prevent collisions with ships.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the northwestern Mediterranean Sea, sperm whales, pilot whales and Risso's dolphins prey on cephalopods exclusively or preferentially. In order to evaluate their competition, we modelled their habitat suitability with the Ecological Niche Factor Analysis (ENFA) and compared their ecological niche using a discriminant analysis. We used a long term (1995–2005) small boat data set, with visual and acoustic (sperm whale) detections. Risso's dolphin had the shallowest and the more spatially restricted principal habitat, mainly located on the upper part of the continental slope (640 m mean depth). With a wider principal habitat, at 1750 m depth in average, the sperm whale used a deeper part of the slope as well as close offshore waters. Finally, the pilot whale has the most oceanic habitat (2500 m mean depth) mainly located in the central Ligurian Sea and Provençal basin. Therefore, potential competition for food between these species may be reduced by the differentiation of their ecological niches.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This paper reviews and analyzes ship collision records for the relatively isolated population of fin whales in the Mediterranean Sea from 1972 to 2001. Out of 287 carcasses, 46 individuals (16.0%) were certainly killed by boats. The minimum mean annual fatal collision rate increased from 1 to 1.7 whales/year from the 1970s to the 1990s. Fatal strike events (82.2%) were reported in or adjacent to the Pelagos Sanctuary, characterized by high levels of traffic and whale concentrations. Among 383 photo-identified whales, 9 (2.4%) had marks that were attributed to a ship impact. The reported rates are unusually high for baleen whales. The high likelihood of unreported fatal strikes combined with other anthropogenic threats suggests an urgent need for a comprehensive, basin-wide conservation strategy, including ship strike mitigation requirements, like real-time monitoring of whale presence and distribution to re-locate ferry routes to areas of lower cetacean density, and reducing ship speed in high cetacean density areas.