Conference presentation: 21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals

13-18 Dec 2015

A noisy dinner? Passive acoustic monitoring on the predator-prey interactions between Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and croakers

Tzu-Hao Lin, Wen-Ching Lien, Chih-Kai Yang, and Lien-Siang Chou
Institute of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, National Taiwan University

Shane Guan
Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, Silver Spring, MD, USA

The spatio-temporal dynamics of prey resources have been considered as important factors for shaping the distribution and behavior of odontocetes. Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) is a costal species, which primary feeds on benthic croakers. It has been hypothesized that the distribution pattern and periodic occurrence of humpback dolphins are results of their prey movement. However, the interactions between humpback dolphins and croakers remain unclear. During May 2013 and November 2014, underwater sound recordings were collected in western Taiwan waters. Croaker choruses and humpback dolphin echolocation clicks were automatically detected using custom developed algorithms. Both croaker choruses and dolphin clicks were frequently detected in shallow estuarine waters during spring and summer. In addition, shorter inter-click intervals were detected with higher frequencies in these areas, indicating more likely foraging behavior. Current results suggest that the core habitats of humpback dolphins show an agreement with the areas of prominent croaker chorus. Diurnal cycle analysis showed that croaker choruses were most evident after sunset to until approximately 4 A.M. In estuarine waters, humpback dolphin clicks were most frequently detected during the nighttime, with reduced detection rates after 8 A.M. This suggests that the diurnal behavior of humpback dolphins could be associated with the calling behavior of croakers. Although whether the position of a calling croaker could be passively localized by a dolphin remains unknown, our results indicate that the foraging probability of humpback dolphins may be elevated during the nighttime chorus of croakers. Information regarding the spatio-temporal dynamics of croaker chorus can be important for the conservation management of humpback dolphins. Further details on the predator-prey interactions between humpback dolphins and croakers can be investigated by using hydrophone arrays.

Poster (pdf)

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