Effect of animal orientation on acoustic estimates of zooplankton properties Academic Article uri icon


  • It is well known that the behavior of zooplankton and, in particular, their orientation distribution dramatically affects the level of backscattered acoustic energy. As a result, interpretation of acoustic survey data in the ocean is subject to error. In order to quantify these effects, laboratory data from two important classes of animals were collected. The data involved broad-band (350-650 kHz) acoustic signals insonifying individual animals whose orientation was varied over the range 0degrees-360degrees in 1degrees increments. The animals were from two major anatomical groups: fluid-like (decapod shrimp; Palaemonetes vulgaris) and elastic-shelled (periwinkles; Littorina littorea). The data were analyzed both in the time domain (with pulse compression processing) and the frequency domain. Averages of the laboratory data over different orientation distributions illustrate the variability in average target strength that can be expected in the ocean environment. The average target strength of the shrimp varied by 3 dB when averaged over orientation distributions centered around broadside and end-on incidence. In addition, size estimates from pulse compression processing of the broad-band echoes were made for various orientation distributions for both the shrimp and periwinkles. These results show the necessity of animal orientation information for the proper interpretation of acoustic backscatter data.

publication date

  • 2002