Understanding environmental drivers of species’ behavior is key for successful conservation. Within cetacean research, studies focused on understanding such drivers often consider local conditions (e.g., sea surface temperature), but rarely include large-scale, long-term parameters such as climate indices. Here we make use of long-term passive acoustic monitoring data to examine relationships between eight classes of toothed whales and climate indices, specifically El Niño Southern Oscillation, Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and North Pacific Gyre Oscillation, as well as local surface conditions (temperature, salinity, sea surface height) at two sites in the Hawaiian Archipelago. We find that El Niño Southern Oscillation most influenced cetacean detections at monitored sites. In many cases, detection patterns matched well with combinations of one or more climate indices and surface conditions. Our results highlight the importance of considering climate indices in efforts to understand relationships between marine top predators and environmental conditions.
Ziegenhorn, M.A., J.A. Hildebrand, E.M. Oleson, R.W. Baird, and S. Baumann-Pickering. 2023. Odontocete Detections Are Linked to Oceanographic Conditions in the Hawaiian Archipelago. Communications Earth & Environment 4:423. doi: 10.1038/s43247/023/01088/7Download PDF
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