Marine ecosystem acoustics (MEA): Quantifying processes in the sea at the spatio-temporal scales on which they occur

Olav Rune Godøl, Nils Olav Handegard, Howard I. Browman, Gavin J. MacAulay, Stein Kaartvedt, Jarl Giske, Egil Ona, Geir Huse, Espen Johnsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Sustainable management of fisheries resources requires quantitative knowledge and understanding of species distribution, abundance, and productivity-determining processes. Conventional sampling by physical capture is inconsistent with the spatial and temporal scales on which many of these processes occur. In contrast, acoustic observations can be obtained on spatial scales from centimetres to ocean basins, and temporal scales from seconds to seasons. The concept of marine ecosystem acoustics (MEA) is founded on the basic capability of acoustics to detect, classify, and quantify organisms and biological and physical heterogeneities in the water column. Acoustics observations integrate operational technologies, platforms, and models and can generate information by taxon at the relevant scales. The gaps between single-species assessment and ecosystem-based management, as well as between fisheries oceanography and ecology, are thereby bridged. The MEA concept combines state-of-the-art acoustic technology with advanced operational capabilities and tailored modelling integrated into a flexible tool for ecosystem research and monitoring. Case studies are presented to illustrate application of the MEA concept in quantification of biophysical coupling, patchiness of organisms, predator-prey interactions, and fish stock recruitment processes. Widespread implementation of MEA will have a large impact on marine monitoring and assessment practices and it is to be hoped that they also promote and facilitate interaction among disciplines within the marine sciences.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2357-2369
Number of pages13
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 22 2014

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science


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