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Localizing wild chimpanzees with passive acoustics

Crunchant, Anne-Sophie; Isaacs, Jason; Piel, Alexander; (2022) Localizing wild chimpanzees with passive acoustics. Ecology and Evolution , 12 (5) , Article e8902. 10.1002/ece3.8902. Green open access

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Localizing wildlife contributes in multiple ways to species conservation. Data on animal locations can reveal elements of social behavior, habitat use, population dynamics, and be useful in calculating population density. Acoustic localization systems (ALS) are a non-invasive method widely used in the marine sciences but not well established and rarely employed for terrestrial species. We deployed an acoustic array in a mountainous environment with heterogeneous vegetation, comprised of four custom-built GPS synchronized acoustic sensors at about 500 m intervals in Issa Valley, western Tanzania, covering an area of nearly 2 km2. Our goal was to assess the precision and error of the estimated locations by conducting playback tests, but also by comparing the estimated locations of wild chimpanzee calls with their true locations obtained in parallel during follows of individual chimpanzees. We assessed the factors influencing localization error, such as wind speed and temperature, which fluctuate during the day and are known to affect sound transmission. We localized 282 playback sounds and found that the mean localization error was 27 ± 21.8 m. Localization was less prone to error and more precise during early mornings (6:30 h) compared to other periods. We further localized 22 wild chimpanzee loud calls within 52 m of the location of a researcher closely following the calling individuals. We demonstrate that acoustic localization is a powerful tool for chimpanzee monitoring, with multiple behavioral and conservation applications. Its applicability in studying social dynamics and revealing density estimation among many others, especially but not exclusively for loud calling species, provides an efficient way of monitoring populations and informing conservation plans to mediate species loss.

Type: Article
Title: Localizing wild chimpanzees with passive acoustics
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1002/ece3.8902
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8902
Language: English
Additional information: © 2022 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: acoustic array, ALS, apes, conservation method, error
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10147058
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