Using Static Acoustic Monitoring to Describe Echolocation Behaviour of Heaviside’s Dolphins (Cephalorhynchus heavisidii) in Namibia

Abstract: Static acoustic monitoring is a cost-effective, low-effort means of gathering large datasets on echolocation click characteristics and habitat use by odontocetes. Heaviside’s dolphins (Cephalorhynchus heavisidii) were monitored using an acoustic monitoring unit, the T-POD, in July 2008 at a site of known high abundance for this species in Walvis Bay, Namibia. The T-POD successfully detected clicks from Heaviside’s dolphins, and these clicks were detected in the 120 to 140 kHz frequency range. A distinct diel pattern to the hourly mean inter-click interval was observed, with higher values during daylight hours than at night, suggesting that click trains are produced at faster rates at night time. There was no apparent diel pattern in the proportion of buzz trains produced, however. A diel pattern in click activity was observed, with many more detection-positive minutes per hour recorded between dusk and dawn, and vocalization activity dropping to low levels in the middle of the day. This corresponded with visual observations made on abundance of dolphins in the study area. These results suggest that Heaviside’s dolphins use this site primarily during the night. Static acoustic monitoring proved to be an effective technique for monitoring patterns of habitat use by Heaviside’s dolphins.

Key Words: habitat use, echolocation behaviour, T-POD, inter-click interval, Heaviside’s dolphin, Cephalorhynchus heavisidii, click train

Document Type: Research article

DOI: 10.1578/AM.37.2.2011.151

Page Numbers: 151-160

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