Can you hear me now? Range-testing a submerged passive acoustic receiver array in a Caribbean coral reef habitat

Ecology and Evolution
By: , and 



Submerged passive acoustic technology allows researchers to investigate spatial and temporal movement patterns of many marine and freshwater species. The technology uses receivers to detect and record acoustic transmissions emitted from tags attached to an individual. Acoustic signal strength naturally attenuates over distance, but numerous environmental variables also affect the probability a tag is detected. Knowledge of receiver range is crucial for designing acoustic arrays and analyzing telemetry data. Here, we present a method for testing a relatively large-scale receiver array in a dynamic Caribbean coastal environment intended for long-term monitoring of multiple species. The U.S. Geological Survey and several academic institutions in collaboration with resource management at Buck Island Reef National Monument (BIRNM), off the coast of St. Croix, recently deployed a 52 passive acoustic receiver array. We targeted 19 array-representative receivers for range-testing by submersing fixed delay interval range-testing tags at various distance intervals in each cardinal direction from a receiver for a minimum of an hour. Using a generalized linear mixed model (GLMM), we estimated the probability of detection across the array and assessed the effect of water depth, habitat, wind, temperature, and time of day on the probability of detection. The predicted probability of detection across the entire array at 100 m distance from a receiver was 58.2% (95% CI: 44.0–73.0%) and dropped to 26.0% (95% CI: 11.4–39.3%) 200 m from a receiver indicating a somewhat constrained effective detection range. Detection probability varied across habitat classes with the greatest effective detection range occurring in homogenous sand substrate and the smallest in high rugosity reef. Predicted probability of detection across BIRNM highlights potential gaps in coverage using the current array as well as limitations of passive acoustic technology within a complex coral reef environment.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Can you hear me now? Range-testing a submerged passive acoustic receiver array in a Caribbean coral reef habitat
Series title Ecology and Evolution
DOI 10.1002/ece3.2228
Volume 6
Issue 14
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Description 13 p.
First page 4823
Last page 4835
Other Geospatial Buck Island Reef National Monument
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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