Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Hawaii
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Grabowski TB, SP Young, & P Cott. 2019. Looking for love under the ice: Using passive acoustics to detect burbot (Lota lota: Gadidae) spawning activity. Freshwater Biology. 65:37-44. doi: 10.1111/fwb.13314


The objective of this study was to assess the feasibility of collecting and using acoustic data to characterize the spawning activity and locations of Burbot under field conditions. Audio and video recordings of Burbot spawning aggregations were made through holes drilled into the ice at known spawning grounds at Moyie Lake in British Columbia, Canada. Acoustic behavior was related to video data to determine how acoustic activity correlated to any observed spawning behavior. Burbot vocalizations were difficult to identify with only about 6% of the recordings containing calls being successfully identified as such in the field. Burbot vocalized more often between sundown and sunrise than during daylight hours. Calls recorded at night tended to be lower frequency, longer duration and have lower bandwidth than those made during the day. Further, Burbot vocalizations were not recorded in conjunction with video recordings of spawning activity. These results suggest that while it may be feasible to use passive acoustic monitoring to locate Burbot spawning grounds and identify periods of activity, it does not seem to hold much promise for monitoring activity in real time.