Marine mammals are known to produce sound in various behavioural contexts. In polar oceans, autonomous passive acoustic recorders therefore form a valuable and year-round source of information on marine mammal presence and behaviour. The presence of species-specific sounds does not only function as an indicator that the concerning species is present, but can also provide information on the behavioural context it is involved in.
Some sounds serve a purpose during the mating season, others are produced in a foraging context. When and what kind of sound a species produces will be determined by the species-specific behavioural ecology, as well as by abiotic, biotic and anthropogenic factors of the animal's living environment, a concept known as acoustic ecology.
Acoustic ecology thereby describes the interaction between an animal and its environment as mediated through sound. One of the core research areas of the AWI Ocean Acoustic Group is to understand the drivers that determine why, when and where animals produce sound.