Finding Fish Sounds in Florida BayLatest update January 1, 2019 Started on January 1, 2017
Join us as we use long-term acoustic recorders to identifying and monitoring fish sounds to understand influences of human activities in this tropical marine wilderness.
Thanks to all of our new followers, we successfully acquired a Trident ROV from the generous folks at OpenROV and the S.E.E. Initiative. As soon as the ice freezes in Central New York, we'll take the ROV for a swim to learn how to use it. It will definitely be joining us on our next trip to Florida.
We deployed 10 sensors across Florida Bay, to examine how changes in environmental conditions across the bay impact fish populations. The sounds produced by fishes (typically in reproductive and territorial contexts) can serve as remote indicators of their behavior and ecology. The goal is to use these sounds to monitor changes in fish behavior as water conditions change.
We now have recorders in the farthest reaches of Florida Bay, ranging from right next to the intercoastal waterway (Butternut Key) to areas of the bay with no visible trace of humans.
As freshwater drains south through Florida from Lake Okeechobee into the Gulf of Mexico, it travels through the Everglades and Florida Bay at the southern tip of Florida. This freshwater is critical for providing South Florida with water for drinking and agriculture, but flow closely managed and regulated to account for major seasonal differences in water availability between the wet and dry seasons. One of the key questions in this freshwater management effort is how it impacts the saltwater fish living in Florida Bay.
Florida Bay has approximately 200 species of fish found in it, and nearly half of those species have been documented to produce sounds. Acoustic communication plays an integral role in the life history of many marine vertebrates, especially marine mammals and fishes. Unlike other communication modalities, acoustic communication can be observed remotely and passively, and used to assess species-specific patterns of occurrence and behavior. These surveys result in a permanent historical record that can be used to investigate a wide variety of species and habitat conditions. Thus, passive acoustic recordings provide a promising survey methodology to quantitatively evaluate community responses to environmental change in the context of conservation and restoration efforts. Additionally, we will use underwater video surveys to identify new species of fish producing sounds in an effort to catalog all of the biological sounds recorded in this expedition.
The observed ecological responses will directly inform adaptive management strategies of the park. This project will also demonstrate how passive acoustic fish surveys can be used as an effective approach to increase understanding of broader management, conservation, and restoration efforts across Florida Bay and Everglades National Park. This collaborative effort between the National Park Service and Cornell University could result in several valuable and exciting scientific and management outcomes. The large-scale acoustic monitoring of fish populations in the Everglades would provide detailed data on the diversity of fishes within the park, and reveal how fish populations and communities are effected by changing environmental conditions, or human activities. As the project continues, we will gather continuous data on multiple fish species in the park, and evaluate the frequency of their occurrence and reproductive activity. Going forward, it could be possible to have several permanent recording platforms across the park, with continuous documentation of the status of different fish sounds or populations at different locations through time.
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