Seasonality and diel variation in blue whale D calls recorded in the Southern California Bight

Gambini, Chiara (2015) Seasonality and diel variation in blue whale D calls recorded in the Southern California Bight. [Laurea magistrale], Università di Bologna, Corso di Studio in Biologia marina [LM-DM270] - Ravenna
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Passive acoustic data have been collected using HARPs (High-frequency Acoustic Recording Packages) and were used to assess (1) the seasonality of blue whale D calls in the Southern California Bight, (2) their interannual abundance during 2007-2012 and (3) their diel variation. This goal has been achieved running the GPL (Generalized Power-Law) automated detector. (1) Blue whale D calls were detected in the Southern California Bight from May through November with a peak in July, even though few detections were from December to April as well. A key predictor for blue whale distribution and movement in the California Current region has been identified with zooplankton aggregations, paying a particular attention to those euphausiid species, such as E. pacifica and T. spinifera, which are blue whale favorite krill. The Southern California Bight experiences seasonal upwelling, resulting in an increase of productivity and prey availability. The summer and early fall have been marked as the most favorable periods. This supports the presence of blue whales in the area at that time, supposing these marine mammals exploit the region as a feeding ground. (2) As to the interannual abundance during 2007-2012, I found a large variability. I observed a great increase of vocalizations in 2007 and 2010, whereas a decrease was shown in the other years, which is well marked in 2009. It is my belief that these fluctuations in abundance of D calls detections through the deployed period are due to the alternation of El Nino and La Nina events, which occurred in those years. (3) The assessment of the daily timing of D calls production shows that D calls are more abundant during the day than during the night with a peak at 12:00 and 13:00. Assuming that D calling is associated with feeding, the daily pattern of D calls may be linked to the prey availability. E. pacifica and T. spinifera are among those species of krill which undertake daily vertical migrations, remaining at depth during the day and slowly coming up towards the surface at night. Because of some anatomical arrangements, these euphausiids are very sensitive to the light. Given that we believe D calls have a social function, I hypothesize that blue whales may recognize the hours at the highest solar incidence as the best moment of the day in terms of prey availability, exploiting this time window to advert their conspecifics.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di laurea (Laurea magistrale)
Autore della tesi
Gambini, Chiara
Relatore della tesi
Correlatore della tesi
Corso di studio
Ordinamento Cds
Parole chiave
blue whales, bioacoustics, D calls, HARPs, detectors
Data di discussione della Tesi
19 Marzo 2015

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