Passive acoustic monitoring of the the Black and Gold Howler Monkey
Passive acoustic monitoring, when coupled with automated signal recognition software, allows researchers to perform simultaneous monitoring at large spatial and temporal scales. This technique has been widely used to monitor cetaceans, bats, birds, and anurans but rarely applied to monitor primates. Here, we evaluated the effectiveness of passive acoustic monitoring and automated signal recognition software for detecting the presence and monitoring the roaring behavior of the Black and Gold Howler Monkey (Alouatta caraya) over a complete annual cycle at one site in the Brazilian Pantanal. The diel pattern of roaring activity was unimodal, with high vocal activity around dawn. The howler monkey showed a clear seasonal pattern of roaring activity, with most of the roars detected during the wet season (74.9%, peak activity during November and December). The maximum vocal activity occurred during the period of maximum flowering and fruit production in the study area, suggesting a potential role of roaring in defending major feeding sites, which is in agreement with the findings of previous studies on the species. However, we cannot rule out the possibility that roaring may serve different purposes. Vocal activity was negatively associated with relative air humidity, which might be related to lower vocal activity on wetter and rainy days, while vocal activity was not related to minimum air temperature. Automated signal recognition software allowed us to detect the species in 89% of the recordings in which it was vocally active, but with a reduced time cost, since the time investment for data analyses was 2% of recording time. The good performance of the recognizer might be related to the long and loud roars of the howler monkey. Further research should be performed to evaluate the effectiveness of automated signal recognition for detecting the calls of different species of primates and under different environmental conditions.