[Coral-List] Acoustics as MPAs’ therapist: Listening to the coral reef to know its condition.

Cécile Berthe cecile.berthe at criobe.pf
Wed Sep 21 13:09:44 EDT 2016

Dear Listers,

We are honored to share with you the results of our recent study on AMP and
Marine Acoustics, subject of a scientific publication in Scientific Report
that is in OPEN ACESS (Bertucci, F. et al Acoustic cues provide information
on the status of coral reefs. An example from Moorea Island in the South
Pacific. Sci Rep 6, 33326; doi:10.1038 / srep33326 (2016)).

Coral reefs are among the most diverse and complex ecosystems (marine and
terrestrial alike) in the world. Yet, only 2.1% are preserved by Marine
Protected Areas (MPAs). Face to rapid global changes, it is essential to
establish MPAs in coral reefs with efficient management tools able to
measure quickly and on a large spatial scale degradation rate and / or
resilience of such protected environments. In this context, a study led by
researchers from CRIOBE (Insular Research Center and Environment
Observatory, USR 3278 CNRS-EPHE-UPVD) and the University of Liège was born
on the island of Moorea, French Polynesia, a.k.a. the most studied island
in the world. Their questioning was: can we use underwater acoustics to
determine environment biodiversity? Terrestrial studies have shown that
degraded forests had a less varied "acoustic landscape" due to altered
animal communities. Can we apply this concept of "soundscape" in the marine
environment? And if so, can it bring information on the health of coral

Frédéric Bertucci, who conducted the study as part of his post-doctorate at
CRIOBE (funded by the Total Foundation) decrypts: "Recent studies provided
audio description of different marine environments worldwide. In Moorea, we
have also been able to describe the acoustic signatures of different types
of habitats of the lagoon from the reef crest to the coast. The problem
remained to apply this concept to one type of habitat which may have
different states, more or less degraded. Differences should be more subtle,
but if they exist, and if they are related to the condition of the milieu,
then sound could be used over a long term monitoring and conservation
efforts." To listen to the coral reef of Moorea, the researchers placed
hydrophones at different locations on the outer slope of the island, half
of the instruments in MPAs, the other half in unprotected areas. Audio
monitoring lasted four months and demonstrated that a reef with a strong
coral cover was louder than a degraded reef. Similarly, sites with greater
biodiversity produced more varied soundscapes.

This research opens a new way of observing the underwater environment,
combining two key elements (sound level and complexity) and demonstrates
two things: yes, underwater acoustics can be used to determine the state of
an environment. And yes, Marine Protected Areas are effective in Moorea!
Indeed, the audio monitoring, carried out in four MPAs of the island and
four non-protected areas, clearly made it possible to differentiate the
two. MPAs of Moorea having a higher biodiversity thanks to their healthy
coral cover were the noisiest areas. The future of acoustic monitoring in
coral reef environment seems promising!


Frédéric BERTUCCI (Perpignan, France) :

Tel: +33 6 64 35 36 31    |   fred.bertucci at gmail.com

David LECCHINI (Moorea, Polynésie française) :

Tel: +689 40 56 13 45   |   lecchini at univ-perp.fr


Cécile Berthe (French Polynesia) | cecile.berthe at criobe.pf

Jeanine Almany (Perpignan – France) | jeanine.almany at univ-perp.fr

*Cécile BERTHE*
Communication CRIOBE
Laboratoire d'Excellence "CORAIL"
Tel : (+689) 40 56 13 45
Port : (+689) 87 31 05 54


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