Odontocete Spatial Patterns and Temporal Drivers of Detection at Sites in the Hawaiian Islands

Successful conservation and management of marine top predators rely on detailed documentation of spatiotemporal behavior. For cetacean species, this information is key to defining stocks, habitat use, and mitigating harmful interactions. Research focused on this goal is employing methodologies such as visual observations, tag data, and passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) data. However, many studies are temporally limited or focus on only one or few species. In this study, we make use of an existing long-term (2009–2019), labeled PAM data set to examine spatiotemporal patterning of at least 10 odontocete (toothed whale) species in the Hawaiian Islands using compositional analyses and modeling techniques. Species composition differs among considered sites, and this difference is robust to seasonal movement patterns. Temporally, hour of day was the most significant predictor of detection across species and sites, followed by season, though patterns differed among species. We describe long-term trends in species detection at one site and note that they are markedly similar for many species. These trends may be related to long-term, underlying oceanographic cycles that will be the focus of future study. We demonstrate the variability of temporal patterns even at relatively close sites, which may imply that wide-ranging models of species presence are missing key fine-scale movement patterns. Documented seasonal differences in detection also highlights the importance of considering season in survey design both regionally and elsewhere. We emphasize the utility of long-term, continuous monitoring in highlighting temporal patterns that may relate to underlying climatic states and help us predict responses to climate change. We conclude that long-term PAM records are a valuable resource for documenting spatiotemporal patterns and can contribute many insights into the lives of top predators, even in highly studied regions such as the Hawaiian Islands.


Ziegenhorn, M.A., J.A. Hildebrand, E.M. Oleson, R.W. Baird, S.M. Wiggin, and S. Baumann-Pickering. 2023. Odontocete Spatial Patterns and Temporal Drivers of Detection at Sites in the Hawaiian Islands. Ecology and Evolution 13(1): e9688. doi: 10.1002/ece.9688