Marine soundscape planning: Seeking acoustic niches for anthropogenic sound

TitleMarine soundscape planning: Seeking acoustic niches for anthropogenic sound
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of PublicationSubmitted
AuthorsVan Opzeeland, Ilse, and Boebel Olaf
JournalJournal of Ecoacoustics
ISBN Number2516-1466
EndNote Rec Number12002

Both marine mammals and hydroacoustic instruments employ underwater sound to communicate, navigate or infer information about the marine environment. Concurrent timing of acoustic activities using similar frequency regimes may result in (potentially mutual) interference of acoustic signals when both sources are within audible range of the recipient. While marine mammal fitness might be negatively impacted upon, both on individual and population level, hydroacoustic studies may generate low quality data or suffer data loss as a result of bioacoustic interference. This article pursues, in analogy to landscape planning, the concept of marine soundscape planning to reconcile potentially competing uses of acoustic space by managing the anthropogenic sound sources. We here present a conceptual framework exploring the potential of soundscape planning in reducing (mutual) acoustic interference between hydroacoustic instrumentation and marine mammals. The basis of this framework is formed by the various mechanisms by which acoustic niche formation (i.e., the partitioning of the acoustic space) occurs in species-rich communities that acoustically coexist while maintaining high fidelity (hi-fi) soundscapes, i.e., by acoustically partitioning the environment on the basis of time, space, frequency and signal structure. Hydroacoustic measurements often exhibit certain flexibility in their timing, and even instrument positioning, potentially offering the opportunity to minimize the ecological imprint of their operation. This study explores how the principle of acoustic niches could contribute to reduce potential (mutual) acoustic interference based on actual acoustic data from three recording locations in polar oceans. By employing marine soundscape planning strategies, entailing shifting the timing or position of hydroacoustic experiments, or adapting signal structure or frequency, we exemplify the potential efficacy of smart planning for four different hydroacoustic instrumentation types: multibeam echosounders, air guns, RAFOS (Ranging and Fixing of Sound) and tomographic sound sources.