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Title: Eavesdropping on the brain at sea: development of a surface-mounted system to detect weak electrophysiological signals from wild animals

Despite rapid advances in sensor development and technological miniaturization, it remains challenging to non-invasively record small-amplitude electrophysiological signals from an animal in its natural environment. Many advances in ecophysiology and biologging have arisen through sleep studies, which rely on detecting small signals over multiple days and minimal disruption of natural animal behavior. This paper describes the development of a surface-mounted system that has allowed novel electrophysiological recordings of sleep in wild marine mammals. We discuss our iterative design process by providing sensor-comparison data, detailed technical illustrations, and material recommendations. We describe the system’s performance over multiple days in 12 freely moving northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) sleeping on land and in water in captivity and the wild. We leverage advances in signal processing by applying independent components analysis and inertial motion sensor calibrations to maximize signal quality across large (> 10 gigabyte), multi-day datasets. Our study adds to the suite of biologging tools available to scientists seeking to understand the physiology and behavior of wild animals in the context in which they evolved.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
Springer Science + Business Media
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Animal Biotelemetry
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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