WCS 3-Sentence Science
Northern Elephant Seals Loud Regardless of Background Noise Levels
January 16, 2020
Each year, Wildlife Conservation Society scientists publish more than 300 peer-reviewed studies and papers. “WCS 3-Sentence Science” is a regular tip-sheet — in bite sized helpings — of some of this published work.
Here we present work by WCS Canada’s Stephen Insley on whether northern elephant seals increase the volume of their calls when in proximity to other loud ambient noises.
- Northern elephant seals produce loud, stereotyped calls during breeding seasons.
- Researchers measured calls of competing male seals on three different sound level pressure metrics within context of biotic and abiotic ambient noise.
- Results indicated that male seals emit airborne calls with little variation in call amplitude with no detected adjustment to compensate for higher background noise levels (no Lombard effect, which is when animals either call louder or change pitch to be heard above background noise); these findings reinforce the view that northern elephant seal calls serve as indicators of size, status, and motivation.
Study and Journal: “High amplitude vocalizations of male northern elephant seals associated ambient noise on a breeding rookery” from The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
WCS Co-Author(s): Stephen Insley, Arctic Research Associate, WCS Canada
For more information, contact: Stephen Sautner, 718–220–3682, firstname.lastname@example.org.