Narwhal (Monodon monoceros) echolocation click rates to support cue counting passive acoustic density estimation

Carolina S. Marques*, Diana A. Marques, Susanna B. Blackwell, Mads Peter Heide-Jørgensen, Chloe E. Malinka, Tiago A. Marques

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Estimating animal abundance is fundamental for effective management and conservation. It is increasingly done by combining passive acoustics with knowledge about rates at which animals produce cues (cue rates). Narwhals (Monodon monoceros) are elusive marine mammals for which passive acoustic density estimation might be plausible, but for which cue rates are lacking. Clicking rates in narwhals were investigated using a dataset from sound and movement tag records collected in August 2013-2016 and 2019 in East Greenland. Clicking rates were quantified for ∼1200 one-second-long systematic random samples from 8 different whales. Generalized additive models were used to model (1) the probability of being in a clicking state versus depth and (2) the clicking rate while in a clicking state, versus time and depth. The probability of being in a clicking state increased with depth, reaching ∼1.0 at ∼500 m, while the number of clicks per second (while in a clicking state) increased with depth. The mean cue production rate, weighted by tag duration, was 1.28 clicks per second (se = 0.13, CV = 0.10). This first cue rate for narwhals may be used for cue counting density estimation, but care should be taken if applying it to other geographical areas or seasons, given sample size, geographical, and temporal limitations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)891-900
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2024


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