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Welcome to the Parks Lab Field Blog! Here you will find blogs filled with updates from current field work as well as blogs from previous field work. Keep checking back to see how our research is going!

Latest post:

A Year in Review: Perspectives from an Undergraduate Researcher by Elaine Alberts

March 9, 2018

Hi! I’m Elaine Alberts, I am an undergraduate research assistant in the Parks Lab. I have been a part of the lab for just over a year, and it has been one of the most fun and eye-opening experiences of my entire life.

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Current projects:

Behavior of North Atlantic right whale mother-calf pairs

Right whale mother-calf pairs are the victims of human caused mortality more often than other right whales, usually in the form of collisions with ships. One of the main objectives of this project is to determine why. In other words, what behavioral characteristics make them more susceptible? Another objective is to characterize the vocal behavior of mother-calf pairs to assess the effectiveness of passive acoustics for monitoring in three critical habitat areas: the southeastern United States, Cape Cod Bay, and the Bay of Fundy. Lastly, we want to assess the vocal development of calves and individual distinctiveness of vocalizations to aid in passive acoustic monitoring.

You can follow this project on the Right Whale Mom/Calf blog.

Behavior of North Atlantic right whales on the southeast calving grounds

The endangered North Atlantic right whale migrates to coastal waters off Florida and Georgia during the winter months. The planned construction and use of an undersea warfare training range (USWTR) off the coast of Florida may cause disturbance to this species on its winter calving ground. This project aims to collect data on the movement patterns of individuals, including movement rates both in North/South and East/West directions, dive depths, dive durations and on the rates of sound production by individuals.

You can follow this project on the Right Whale Tagging blog.

National Ecological Observatory Network

We are incorporating acoustic monitoring into a major research initiative to conduct long term monitoring of ecological indicators throughout the United States. The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) will have more than 100 core and rotating sites at which suites of sensors collect a wide variety of environmental metrics. With the goal of monitoring biotic changes associated with climate change at undisturbed locations, we are collecting long term, high quality acoustic recordings at four NEON sites. Adding the acoustic recorders to this suite of environmental sensors permits monitoring of acoustically active animals and insects, and detecting changes in the species composition, phenology of acoustic signals, and effects of anthropogenic noise on biotic signals. Combining acoustic and environmental monitoring will document wildlife responses to climate change both within and between sites.

You can follow this project on the NEON blog.

The influence of temperature on the calling behavior of Orthoptera species in Central New York

Global warming has already begun to impact our climate. Temperatures are increasing and the possible effect this might have on the calling behavior of insects has not been well documented. For our study, we are looking to see if temperature increases alter the frequency of calls in several Orthopterids. We are then interested in whether the calls of different species will overlap, causing the need to compete for acoustic space. This can be detrimental to a species that relies on sound to communicate.

You can follow this project on the Insects blog.

The underwater behavior of North Atlantic humpback whales

Understanding how humpback whales behave underwater is essential for reducing human caused mortality like entanglement in fishing gear and ship strikes. Using digital acoustic recording tags that are applied to the whales using suction cups, we are able to collect fine-scale data on underwater behavior by measuring depth, pitch, heading, roll, and acoustics (for more information, check out the WHOI page on DTAGs). After data collection, we can use visualization software to actually “see” the underwater behavior of the tagged animal and hear both the sounds it makes and the sounds it is exposed to. This project is a giant collaborative effort with researchers from the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS), NOAA Fisheries, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the University of New Hampshire, Duke University, the University of Hawaii, the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Whale Center of New England, and our team at Syracuse University.

You can follow this project on the S.B.N.M.S. blog.

Also check out blogs from past projects:

W.I.L.E.Y. 2009

C.C.P.P. 2010