A research team from Nottingham Trent University, UK, has developed a computer program to analyse the vocal signatures of eastern grey wolves. Individual wild wolves can now be recognised by just their howls with 100% accuracy, the study has shown.

Because a wolf pack's range can be huge, it is difficult for conservationists to track them visually. But the new technology could provide a way for conservationists to monitor individual wolves by sound alone.

"Wolves howl a lot in the wild," said PhD student Holly Root-Gutteridge, head researcher. Wolves use their distinctive calls to protect territory from rivals and to call to other pack members. They enjoy it as a group activity. When you get a chorus howl going they all join in."

The researchers tested their new device by studying dozens of archive recordings of wild eastern grey wolf howls, from Algonquin park, Canada, and collected by the British Library in London. Their success rate was 100% when recognizing individual wolves from their solo howls. And they achieved an accuracy of 97% when identifying wolves calling together in a "chorus howl".

According to Ms. Root-Gutteridge, this technology is in the last stages of development but she is hoping that it can be used by conservationists in the wild in the near future. "The two biggest challenges are getting 'clean' recordings... and sometimes the wolves just don't want to howl," she said.(Source)

Scientists have also successfully used acoustic sampling to monitor other wild animals such as bats and marine mammals. Just last week, experts in Puerto Rico revealed audio technology that can recognize rainforest animals by the sounds they make.

Ms. Root-Gutteridge speculated that her team's new vocal "extraction code" could be used in acoustic studies for "[other] wolves; coyotes; dogs. Anything that howls really".


Responses to "Researchers can now track individual wolves by their howls."

  1. Anonymous says:

    So cool.
    Cathy Mc, Albuquerque, N.M..

  2. Anonymous says:

    So cool.
    Cathy Mc, Albuquerque, N.M..

  3. Sandy says:

    I always have loved listening to the wolves; their howls are so beautiful!

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