Presentation Title

Do lunar cycles influence male humpback whale singing behavior?

Project Collaborators

Laura May-Collado (Faculty Mentor), Kristen Rasmussen

Abstract

Previous research in Brazil has found evidence that the interaction between phases of the moon and time of day influence male humpback whale singing behavior. Humpback whales are thought to be acoustically activity at night and shift to visual competitive tactics during the day. Here we study the potential influence of moon phases and time of day on the singing activity of humpback whales at Las Marias, an important breeding area in Panama. We use data collected from passive acoustic monitoring efforts in this area and generated a presence-absence matrix of song detections for Marias from October to December 2020 noting time of day and phase categories (4 levels) based on NOAA Astronomical online data. Based on previous studies we hypothesize that there will be a decrease in singing activity from first to last quarter. This study will provide a better understanding of the acoustic behavior of male humpback whales in this breeding ground.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Laura May-Collado

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Biology

Primary Research Category

Biological Sciences

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Do lunar cycles influence male humpback whale singing behavior?

Previous research in Brazil has found evidence that the interaction between phases of the moon and time of day influence male humpback whale singing behavior. Humpback whales are thought to be acoustically activity at night and shift to visual competitive tactics during the day. Here we study the potential influence of moon phases and time of day on the singing activity of humpback whales at Las Marias, an important breeding area in Panama. We use data collected from passive acoustic monitoring efforts in this area and generated a presence-absence matrix of song detections for Marias from October to December 2020 noting time of day and phase categories (4 levels) based on NOAA Astronomical online data. Based on previous studies we hypothesize that there will be a decrease in singing activity from first to last quarter. This study will provide a better understanding of the acoustic behavior of male humpback whales in this breeding ground.