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Listen In: Acoustic Monitoring of Estuarine Communities Facing Ecosystem Change

Thu, Jul 14 2022, 2 - 3pm

Speaker(s): Christopher Biggs and Philip Souza

Location: Webinar

Soundscape ecology is a promising new field that studies the sounds produced above and below water using a variety of acoustic sensors. Passive acoustic monitoring records sound produced over multiple levels of biological complexity which can be used to investigate and monitor biodiversity, behaviors such as feeding and spawning, and anthropogenic noise. By implementing acoustic monitoring, scientists and managers can identify key habitats for protection and measure how ecological communities respond to environmental changes (e.g. storm events, coastal development, eutrophication) in a cost-effective and low-impact manner.

This project brought together academic leaders in bioacoustics, estuarine ecology, and fisheries ecology with managers and staff from the Mission-Aransas, Rookery Bay, and North Inlet-Winyah Bay reserves. The goal was to develop a framework for a new acoustic monitoring program that could be integrated with reserve programs throughout the region, including: long-term system monitoring; targeted research, e.g. oyster reefs; stewardship applications, e.g. visitor use and anthropogenic noise; and education programs such as TOTE. In this webinar, project lead Chris Biggs talks about the project approach and management context, shares lessons learned from the project, and discusses the value of active acoustic monitoring as a component of ecosystem stewardship.

Learn more about the speakers:

Christopher Biggs is a faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute. His research expertise is in the reproductive behavior of fishes and passive acoustic monitoring of estuarine systems. His work utilizes hydrophones to monitor sound production in marine organisms to understand behavior, productivity, and habitat utilization along with the impacts of anthropogenic noise. Chris was the project lead of the Science Collaborative Catalyst Grant on Acoustic monitoring.
Philip Souza is a Ph.D. student at the University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute. His research uses passive acoustic techniques to monitor soundscapes in the Mission-Aransas Estuary, with a focus on biological sound production. Specific projects include monitoring sciaenid fish spawning activity, tracking restored oyster reef soundscape development, and investigating the relationships between biological sound production and community measures (e.g., fish abundance and biodiversity).