In the ocean, most resources are unevenly distributed and highly dynamic. The Acoustical Ocean Ecology Group investigates how animals respond to constantly changing environments, including how animals find dinner without becoming dinner themselves and the way group behaviors like schooling or cooperation affect predator-prey interactions.

To study the complex, four-dimensional interactions that occur beneath the water’s surface, we use acoustic technologies (often called sonar). This is a form of active acoustics, meaning we send out specific sound waves and then listen to how they reflect back, allowing us to “see” the locations and movements of animals beneath the ocean’s surface.

Our lab also develops and applies new forms of active acoustic techniques and integrates established technologies into novel platforms. A big part of our work is to combine these tools with other techniques, including underwater cameras, environmental DNA (eDNA), animal tagging, and behavioral modeling.

Through our efforts, we’re contributing to the understanding of how patchiness—the variability in resources over space—is critical to how animals from plankton to whales make a successful living.



Zhang, Y., B. Kieft, B.W. Hobson, B.Y. Raanan, S. Urmy, K.J. Pitz, C.M. Preston, B. Roman, K.J. Benoit-Bird, J.M. Birch, F.P. Chavez, and C.A. Scholin. 2021. Persistent sampling of vertically migrating biological layers by an autonomous underwater vehicle within the beam of a seabed-mounted echosounder. IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering, 46: 497–508.

Benoit-Bird, K.J., and C.M. Waluk. 2021. Remote acoustic detection and characterization of fish schooling behavior. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 150: 4329–4342.

Benoit-Bird, K.J., and C.M. Waluk. 2020. Exploring the promise of broadband fisheries echosounders for species discrimination with quantitative assessment of data processing effects. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 147: 411–427.

Arranz, P., K.J. Benoit-Bird, A.S. Friedlander, E.L. Hazen, J.A. Goldbogen, A.K. Stimpert, S.L. DeRuiter, J. Calambokidis, B.L. Southall, A. Fahlman, and P.L. Tyack. 2019. Diving behavior and fine-scale kinematics of free-ranging Risso’s dolphins foraging in shallow and deep-water habitats. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 7: 1–15.



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