• Acoustic recordings provide detailed information regarding the behavior of cryptic wildlife to support conservation translocations

      Yan, Xiao; Zhang, Hemin; Li, Desheng; Wu, Daifu; Zhou, Shiqiang; Sun, Mengmeng; Hu, Haiping; Liu, Xiaoqiang; Mou, Shijie; He, Shengshan; et al. (2019)
      For translocated animals, behavioral competence may be key to post-release survival. However, monitoring behavior is typically limited to tracking movements or inferring behavior at a gross scale via collar-mounted sensors. Animal-bourne acoustic monitoring may provide a unique opportunity to monitor behavior at a finer scale. The giant panda is an elusive species of Ursid that is vulnerable to extinction. Translocation is an important aspect of the species’ recovery, and survival and recruitment for pandas likely hinge on behavioral competence. Here we tested the efficacy of a collar-mounted acoustic recording unit (ARU) to remotely monitor the behavior of panda mothers and their dependent young. We found that trained human listeners could reliably identify 10 behaviors from acoustic recordings. Through visual inspection of spectrograms we further identified 5 behavioral categories that may be detectable by automated pattern recognition, an approach that is essential for the practical application of ARU. These results suggest that ARU are a viable method for remotely observing behaviors, including feeding. With targeted effort directed towards instrumentation and computing advances, ARU could be used to document how behavioral competence supports or challenges post-release survival and recruitment, and allow for research findings to be adaptively integrated into future translocation efforts.