Differences in acoustic signals from Delphinids in the western North Atlantic and northern Gulf of Mexico

Authors

  • Susan C. Baron,

    1. NOAA Fisheries Southeast Fisheries Science Center, 75 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, Florida 33149, U.S.A. Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center, 8000 North Ocean Drive, Dania Beach, Florida 33004, U.S.A. and Battelle, 1400 Centrepark Boulevard, Suite 1005, West Palm Beach, Florida 33401, U.S.A. E-mail: baronsusan@gmail.com
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  • Anthony Martinez,

    1. NOAA Fisheries Southeast Fisheries Science Center, 75 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, Florida 33149, U.S.A.
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  • Lance P. Garrison,

    1. NOAA Fisheries Southeast Fisheries Science Center, 75 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, Florida 33149, U.S.A.
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  • Edward O. Keith

    1. Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center, 8000 North Ocean Drive, Dania Beach, Florida 33004, U.S.A.
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Abstract

Whistle characteristics were quantitatively compared between both geographically separated and neighboring populations of Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis), bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), and pilot whales (Globicephala spp.) in U.S. waters to evaluate if intraspecific acoustic differences exist between groups. We compared nine whistle characteristics between continental shelf and offshore Atlantic spotted dolphins in the western North Atlantic and between northern Gulf of Mexico and western North Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and pilot whales using discriminant analysis. Offshore Atlantic spotted dolphin whistles were significantly different (Hotelling's T2, P= 0.0003) from continental shelf whistles in high frequency, bandwidth, duration, number of steps, and number of inflection points. Atlantic bottlenose dolphin whistles were significantly different (Hotelling's T2, P < 0.0001) from those in the Gulf of Mexico in duration, number of steps, and number of inflection points. There was no significant difference between pilot whale whistles in the two basins. The whistle differences indicate acoustic divergence between groups in different areas that may arise from geographic isolation or habitat separation between neighboring but genetically distinct populations of dolphins. This study supports the premise that acoustic differences can be a tool to evaluate the ecological separation between marine mammal groups in field studies.

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