Identification and spatial stratification of tropical fish concentrations using acoustic populations
One of the main limitations in acoustic stock assessment is fish identification. We propose here a new method for identifying several communities of tropical fish within a surveyed area. This method, called "Acoustic Populations", consists in splitting a study area in systematic regular strata such as geographical rectangles, and calculating for each stratum a set of acoustic parameters that can be easily obtained with conventional acoustic equipment, and have a discriminant power, such as target strength, mean density, confidence interval and dispersion indexes. It is based on the fact that the biological (specific diversity, physiology) and ethological (gregarism, migrations, etc.) characteristics of fish communities have a particular influence on the echoes recorded, which become characteristical and thus are able to discriminate acoustically several populations. An example of application of the method is given for Eastern Venezuela, and the use of the results for mapping, evaluation and stratification of acoustic data is discussed.