Poster presentation 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Deciphering wolf howls (#717)

Bilal Habib 1
  1. Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, Uttrarakhand, India

Howling evolved in wolves to communicate with other group members and to demarcate their territories. Howls can travel large distances owing to their high amplitudes and narrow frequency ranges. Howl modulation is not arbitrary, therefore it can be used to distinguish one population from another. My objective is to use howling as a tool to identify individual wolves and investigate its use as a population estimation tool for wolves. Howls recorded from the captive wolves were played in the field during early morning and evening hours, expecting a response. A 50 second long howl was played five times in a session, at an interval of 3 minutes with increasing amplitude. If a response was received, the session was repeated after an interval of 15-20 minutes the to enhance possibility of recording a better howl. Fundamental frequency, the lowest frequency of periodic wave form, of each howl was identified and data on thirteen main parameters of the sound were extracted to identify individual wolves. The method was validated by using 54 howls of known wolves (n = 4) from captivity as well as from the wild. Data was analysed using discriminant function analysis (DFA). During validation of the method from the howls of known individuals, we achieved 94.0% accuracy. From this study it was inferred that howling has a high potential to be used as a tool to monitor population of wolves. The application of this techniques as a tool to monitor free ranging populations in human dominated landscape will be discussed.