Improving individual identification of wolves (Canis lupus) using the fundamental frequency and amplitude of their howls: a new survey method

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Root-Gutteridge, H (2013)

Many bioacoustic studies have been able to identify individual mammals from variations in the fundamental frequency (F0) of their vocalizations. Other characteristics of vocalization which encode individuality, such as amplitude, are less frequently used because of problems with background noise and recording fidelity over distance. In this thesis, I investigate whether the inclusion of amplitude variables improves the accuracy of individual howl identification in captive Eastern grey wolves (Canis lupus lycaon). I also explore whether the use of a bespoke code to extract the howl features, combined with histogram-derived principal component analysis (PCA) values, can improve current individual wolf howl identification accuracies. From a total of 89 solo howls from six captive individuals, where distances between wolf and observer were short, I achieved 95.5% (+9.0% improvement) individual identification accuracy of captive wolves using discriminant function analysis (DFA) to classify simple scalar variables of F0 and normalized amplitudes. Moreover, this accuracy was increased to 100% when using histogram-derived PCA values of F0 and amplitudes of the first harmonic.
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