Acoustic monitoring of beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas): spatio-temporal habitat preference and geographic variation in Canadian populations

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Booy, Karyn
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Acoustic monitoring is an effective means by which to study cetaceans, such as beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas), and can be useful in determining habitat preference and geographic variation among populations. Acoustic monitoring data were analyzed using a combination of automated detection and manual analysis to determine habitat preference of Cumberland Sound beluga in their summering range. Belugas were primarily detected in the northernmost site in Clearwater Fiord, with diel variation in call patterns at two separate sites in different years. No correlation was evident between tidal cycles and beluga detections. A second study examined geographic variation in simple contact calls (SCC’s) among four Canadian beluga populations. Results indicate variation in the measured parameters (duration, peak frequency and pulse repetition rate) among four populations and align with genetic variation previously described in the literature. These findings provide important information necessary for the conservation and management of beluga populations in Canada.
Beluga, Acoustic monitoring, Habitat preference, Cumberland Sound, St. Lawrence Estuary, Western Hudson Bay, Eastern High Arctic-Baffin Bay, Eastern Beaufort Sea, Automated detector, Beluga vocalizations, Passive acoustic monitoring