Determining dominant scatterers of sound in mixed zooplankton populations. Academic Article uri icon


  • High-frequency acoustic scattering techniques have been used to investigate dominant scatterers in mixed zooplankton populations. Volume backscattering was measured in the Gulf of Maine at 43, 120, 200, and 420 kHz. Zooplankton composition and size were determined using net and video sampling techniques, and water properties were determined using conductivity, temperature, and depth sensors. Dominant scatterers have been identified using recently developed scattering models for zooplankton and microstructure. Microstructure generally did not contribute to the scattering. At certain locations, gas-bearing zooplankton, that account for a small fraction of the total abundance and biomass, dominated the scattering at all frequencies. At these locations, acoustically inferred size agreed well with size determined from the net samples. Significant differences between the acoustic, net, and video estimates of abundance for these zooplankton are most likely due to limitations of the net and video techniques. No other type of biological scatterer ever dominated the scattering at all frequencies. Copepods, fluid-like zooplankton that account for most of the abundance and biomass, dominated at select locations only at the highest frequencies. At these locations, acoustically inferred abundance agreed well with net and video estimates. A general approach for the difficult problem of interpreting high-frequency acoustic scattering in mixed zooplankton populations is described.

publication date

  • December 2007