Disentangling canid howls across multiple species and subspecies: Structure in a complex communication channel
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Kershenbaum, A., Root-Gutteridge, H., Habib, B., Koler-Matznick, J., Mitchell, B., Palacios, V., & Waller, S. (2016). Disentangling canid howls across multiple species and subspecies: Structure in a complex communication channel. Behavioural Processes, 124 149-157. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2016.01.006
Wolves, coyotes, and other canids are members of a diverse genus of top predators of considerable conservation and management interest. Canid howls are long-range communication signals, used both for territorial defence and group cohesion. Previous studies have shown that howls can encode individual and group identity. However, no comprehensive study has investigated the nature of variation in canid howls across the wide range of species. We analysed a database of over 2000 howls recorded from 13 different canid species and subspecies. We applied a quantitative similarity measure to compare the modulation pattern in howls from different populations, and then applied an unsupervised clustering algorithm to group the howls into natural units of distinct howl types. We found that different species and subspecies showed markedly different use of howl types, indicating that howl modulation is not arbitrary, but can be used to distinguish one population from another. We give an example of the conservation importance of these findings by comparing the howls of the critically endangered red wolves to those of sympatric coyotes Canis latrans, with whom red wolves may hybridise, potentially compromising reintroduced red wolf populations. We believe that quantitative cross-species comparisons such as these can provide important understanding of the nature and use of communication in socially cooperative species, as well as support conservation and management of wolf populations.
bioacoustics, coyote, dog, howling, jackal, social communication, wolf
Recording work was approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of the University of Tennessee. AK is supported by a Herchel Smith postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Cambridge. Part of this work was carried out while AK was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, an Institute sponsored by the National Science Foundation through NSF Award #DBI-1300426, with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. BH is thankful to the State Forest Departments of Himachal Pradesh, J&K, and Maharashtra, and to various zoos in India for permitting us to record howls. HRG is grateful to all who helped with the project: the staff at Colchester Zoo; the Wildwood Trust, the Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics; the British Library; Lupus Laetus; Polish Mammal Research Institute; Tigress Productions; the BBC Natural History Unit; Longleat Safari Park; Tierstimmen Archiv; Wild Sweden; Wolf Park; the Macaulay Sound Library and the UK Wolf Conservation Trust; and Mike Collins, Teresa Palmer, Monty Sloan, Karl-Heinz Frommolt, Yorgos Iliopoulos, Christine Anhalt, Louise Gentle, Richard Yarnell, Victoria Allison Hughes and Susan Parks. BRM thanks the USDA/APHIS/WS/National Wildlife Research Center for supporting his doctoral research and providing access to captive coyotes; recording work was approved by the NWRC IACUC. SW thanks Mariana Olsen for assistance with data collection, and Yellowstone National Park for permission to record.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2016.01.006
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/253516
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 UK: England & Wales
Licence URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/uk/
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