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Chronic Ocean Noise: Cetacean Ecology and Acoustic habitat Loss


The overall aim of project CONCEAL (“Chronic Ocean Noise: Cetacean Ecology and Acoustic habitat Loss”) is to quantify the ecological consequences to marine mammals of acoustic habitat degradation due to masking effects of chronic ocean noise in a robust statistical framework. Ambient noise levels (e.g. marine shipping traffic, offshore oil and gas activities, and renewable energy sources) have risen dramatically in the world ocean in recent decades, but evaluating the impacts of this trend on acoustically sensitive marine predators has proven difficult. The proposed project would allow quantification of this threat in a rigorous, repeatable and standardised way that informs species-specific mitigation measures and assists reporting. The project builds on a recent development by American colleagues to estimate a “masking metric”, which uses the sonar equation, informed by biological and empirical data, to quantify changes in the communication space of an individual or population as a result of changes in the acoustic environment. This metric is a simple, but repeatable and rigorously derived parameter in which the measurement of interest is the ratio of communication space available to a given species under current noise conditions relative to its communication space under estimated levels of pre-industrial ambient noise. Initial case studies include fin, humpback and killer whales. This multidisciplinary research project will be guided by and have strong implications for marine conservation and natural resource management policy. The study will integrate expertise from three disciplines: (1) biology; (2) acoustics; and (3) statistical modelling, and draws on leaders in all three fields. Progress is urgently needed on this conceptually challenging research topic, not least because marine mammals are protected under the Habitats Directive and scientific guidance is needed to assist those tasked with judging Favourable Conservation Status.

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North Street 66 College Gate
KY16 9AJ St Andrews
United Kingdom

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Tipo di attività
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Contatto amministrativo
Trish Starrs (Ms.)
Contributo UE
€ 240 289,60