Discrimination of bioacoustic signals to the species or population level is critical for using passive acoustic monitoring to study cetacean ecology. Risso's dolphins off southern California have distinctive peaks and notches in their echolocation clicks, but it was unknown whether Risso's dolphins from other geographic areas have similarly distinctive click spectra and whether populations are acoustically distinct. This study investigates using clicks for species and population identification by characterizing the spectral structure of Risso's dolphin echolocation clicks recorded over wide-ranging geographic regions including the U.S. waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and North Pacific Ocean; and international waters of the Eastern Tropical Pacific. All recordings with Risso's dolphin clicks exhibited the spectral peak and notch pattern described off southern California, indicating the presence of peak banding patterns is useful for species discrimination. Geographic regions were a significant explanatory factor for variability in the frequencies of click spectral peaks, with relatively higher frequency peaks and notches found off Hawaii compared to California waters and off the southeast U.S. compared to the Gulf of Mexico. In the North Atlantic Ocean, a latitudinal cline in frequencies was evident. Potential causes of acoustic variation within and among acoustic encounters are evaluated.

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