Investment in statistical methodological development (e g , Bayes

Investment in statistical methodological development (e.g., Bayesian methods under development for seismic and sonar; Dr. Len Thomas, University of St Andrews, pers. comm.)

would allow us to extract additional information about response severity as a function of noise levels, rather than as a binary response. Fitting a dose–response curve reliably may require a bigger sample size across a wider range of received levels (and age, sex, speed etc.) to better estimate the underlying shape and to tighten confidence intervals. Until then, we may be looking only at a relatively low and flat end of a dose–response curve. This may be particularly true because killer whales are somewhat used to noise, and because the whales have a lot of notice that the ship is coming. The selleck chemicals ship noise will slowly increase as a ship passes, and it may be that dose–response curves will always show a better fit to sudden sounds like sonar or seismic surveys in which the sound source does not ramp up slowly. That said, the sample size in the current study is large, relative to more sophisticated and expensive control-exposure experiments on logistically challenging stressors like seismic surveys or military sonar (Miller et al., 2012 and Miller et al., 2009). We see value in inexpensive

studies like this one, especially because the land-based observation platform makes it possible to collect data under truly control (no-boat) conditions. The response variable we measured represents current best practice in quantifying exposure Sunitinib chemical structure and response of marine mammals to noise (Southall et al., 2007), but future studies may need to consider more ecologically relevant

response variables. We did not measure vocal behavior of killer whales (echolocation or call rates, source levels etc.), and ultimately, one would want to test whether foraging efficiency or prey intake were affected by these noise levels (Williams et al., 2006). The metabolic cost of swimming in killer whales is fairly flat across the range of speeds observed in this study (Williams and Noren, 2009), so in general, these behavioral responses are expected to carry minor energetic costs in terms of increased energy expenditure, with two important caveats. First, the cost to females of having a calf swim in echelon formation is already high, at a time when lactating females may already be energetically stressed, so if female killer whales truly are more responsive than males to large ships (Model 3), then increasing their travel costs would be a conservation concern (Williams et al., 2011). Secondly, this study only looked at overt behavioral responses from surface observations. If ship noise is reducing prey acquisition through acoustic masking of echolocation signals (Clark et al., 2009), causing whales to abandon foraging opportunities (Williams et al.

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