Mexico's Marine Mammal Habitat Hosts Investigation About Manatee Vocal Behavior
WHY IT RATES: Anything that helps the population of the majestic manatee is a plus. – Rich Thomaselli, TravelPulse Senior Editor
PHOTO: Dolphin Discovery has contributed to the study and conservation of marine mammals for the past 21 years (Courtesy Dolphin Discovery)
For the first time, Antillean manatee is part of a larger study that investigates the vocal behavior of the West Indian manatee species
The focus of the study from Dolphin Discovery is to analyze their vocal characteristics of varying demographics, providing improvements in conservation methods and analysis of the vocal repertoire that can provide insight into the selective pressures and conditions in which manatees communicate.
Endangered West Indian manatees face challenges from climatic and anthropogenic sources. Passive acoustic techniques use the production of distinctive sounds to estimate distributions, densities and demographics of the species of interest. However, the effectiveness of these techniques depends upon detailed knowledge of the vocal repertoire and how it is utilized in communicating with conspecifics.
Investigator Beth Brady started the works in May 2013, with the support of Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida and Dolphin Discovery, Puerto Aventuras, Mexico and it will conclude in February 2017 with her doctorate degree. Importance of the study increase since there is limited literature on spectral analysis of manatee vocalizations.
“Dolphin Discovery has interesting facilities, really helpful to obtain daily recordings of the manatees and collect representative samples of the sounds of calls which manatees make; is a controlled environment that hosts four calves and three adults where I can record their vocal behavior-necessary for the investigation,” Brady said.
Species can be identified according to the sound it makes. To be able to identify the species making the sound, one must look at the frequency at which the call was made and what the sound looks like in a graphical representation. In some species it can take years to identify the animal making the call.
“My goal is to be able to describe the vocal repertoire of the West Indian manatee species. In addition, I am investigating how these calls are used in different size groups, age classes and behavioral contexts,” added Brady.
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