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A database for the study of marine mammal behavior: Gap analysis, data standardization, and future directions


A relational database that contained published information on the diving behavior and/or movement patterns of marine mammals was compiled to facilitate a modeling effort of the Effects of Sound on the Marine Environment(ESME) program. A total of 448 references from reports, books, and peer-reviewed journal articles were obtained. The metadata describing each animal studied, location of the study, and equipment used were entered into thedata base as well as empirical datA describing the diving behavior and movement patterns of each animal. In total, the database contained 1815 entries from 51 different marine mammal species or subspecies. The majority of animals were seals and sea lions with 1560 entries from 29 individual species. More than half the number of animals studied were from high latitude regions (e.g., Arctic and Antarctic). Other problem areas identified were: 1) Data reduction in summaries, 2) inability to easily summarize qualitative and quantitative data, and 3) lack of standardization in data reporting. A solution is to create a common access data archive where researchers contribute raw published or unpublished geospatially referenced data sets. This would improve access to original data sets with large volumes of data, which, overall, enhances the power to develop robust behavioral or ecological models that could help define critical habitats of marine mammals.

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