NSF GRIP NOAA Opportunity Position
Project title: FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS – Determining rates of sound production of endangered killer whales from acoustic tag data
Hypothesis or objectives: Southern Resident killer whales (SRKWs) are listed as endangered and face a number of threats including exposure to vessels and associated noise. Suction cup attached tags consists of a number of different sensors including hydrophones that record sound. The objective of the project is to investigate killer whale acoustics from tag data to understand sound use and behavior on an individual level under specific biological and environmental contexts; this will inform components of a larger study that aims to determine potential effects of vessel noise exposure on killer whale behavior. Details about sound use on individual and group levels will also inform passive acoustic monitoring efforts to document winter distribution of SRKWs.
Duration: 3 - 12 months
Area(s) of discipline: Biology, Ecology, Electrical Engineering, Environmental Science Studies, Fisheries Science, Living Marine Resources, Marine And Aquatic Sciences, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Ocean Engineering, Oceanography, Physical Sciences, Physics, Zoology
Internship location: Seattle, WA
Duties and responsibilities: 1. Use sound analysis software to identify killer whale calls, clicks and whistles on recordings made from acoustic tags 2. Utilize tag toolbox (matlab based) and signal processing techniques to infer whether the tagged whale produced the sound 3. Verify and automate measurements to determine rates of sound production by individuals and groups of killer whales 4. Summarize quantitative and qualitative results 5. Run appropriate statistics on summarized results
Special skills/training required: 1. Familiarity with matlab, preferably with sound analysis and/or signal processing experience, and R program 2. Ability to work independently but with good communication skills and ability to collaborate with others 3. Knowledge of math, physics, acoustics and some level of signal processing.
Expected outcomes: Research conducted to address conservation questions of an endangered species including developing methodology to address research goals, conduct sound analysis and other data analyses (e.g. statistical analysis), gain experience with scientific writing. The research will support the conservation and management of endangered killer whales by addressing key risk factors of population recovery. The intended results will also further understanding of marine mammal acoustics and behavioral ecology.
Point of contact (Mentor): Marla Holt
Organization: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
Program office: Northwest Fisheries Science Center
Mailing address: 2725 Montlake Blvd East
Seattle, WA 98112
Phone number: 206-860-3261
Fax number: None
Co-Mentor name: ---
Co-Mentor email: ---
Co-Mentor gency or organization: ---
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