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An Application of Autonomous Recorders for Gibbon Monitoring

Abstract

Population monitoring is very important in wildlife management and conservation. All 18 species of gibbons are considered threatened with extinction and listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Thus, understanding and effectively monitoring their population trends and distribution are critical. Thus far, all gibbon surveying and monitoring programs have been conducted by human surveyors; this is expensive, laborious, and dependent on the surveyors’ skills. In particular, estimating group density often requires a large sample size with several skilled observers working simultaneously in the field. We used autonomous recorders to record the calls of southern yellow-cheeked crested gibbon (Nomascus gabbrielae) for at least 3 days at each of 57 posts in Nam Cat Tien sector, Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam from July to October, 2016. We extracted gibbon calls from the recordings auditorily or visually using spectrograms in RAVEN software. We detected gibbon calls at 40 recording posts during the survey. The proportion of recorders with gibbon calls in the eastern region of Nam Cat Tien sector (mean = 0.79; SE = 0.13) was higher than that in the western region (mean = 0.46; SE = 0.11). The estimated probability of occurrence in the eastern region (ψ = 0.56; SE = 0.20) was higher than that in the western region (ψ = 0.23; SE = 0.16). Passive acoustic data were useful to investigate spatial variation in the probability of occurrence of gibbon. We recommend using autonomous recorders combined with occupancy model to complement human surveyors in gibbon monitoring in areas with low gibbon density because it is efficient, low cost, and not subject to errors caused by human surveyors. In the areas of high gibbon density, absolute density estimate achieved by human surveyors might be a more suitable indicator.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the Vietnam National Foundation for Science and Technology (NAFOSTED) for support given to this project (Grant number 106-NN.06-2015.37). Our gratitude also extends to the forest rangers in Cat Tien National Park for permitting us to conduct the survey. I would also like to thank all the field assistants for helping us with the field survey. We are thankful to Dr. Janice Moore at Colorado State University and Dr. Greg Nagle for help with proofreading of the manuscript. Finally, we thank the reviewers and editors for their insightful comments, suggestions, and corrections.

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Correspondence to Thinh Tien Vu.

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Handling Editor: Joanna M. Setchell

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Vu, T.T., Tran, L.M. An Application of Autonomous Recorders for Gibbon Monitoring. Int J Primatol 40, 169–186 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10764-018-0073-3

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Keywords

  • Bioacoustics
  • Gibbon
  • Nomascus
  • Occupancy model
  • Primate
  • Song meter