The use of on-animal acoustical recording devices for studying animal behavior
Article first published online: 31 MAY 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Ecology and Evolution
Volume 3, Issue 7, pages 2030–2037, July 2013
How to Cite
Ecology and Evolution 2013; 3(7): 2030–2037
- Issue published online: 10 JUL 2013
- Article first published online: 31 MAY 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 24 APR 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 20 APR 2013
- Manuscript Received: 20 FEB 2013
- Safari Club International
- Acoustic monitoring;
- mule deer;
- sound recording;
- wildlife behaviour
Audio recordings made from free-ranging animals can be used to investigate aspects of physiology, behavior, and ecology through acoustic signal processing. On-animal acoustical monitoring applications allow continuous remote data collection, and can serve to address questions across temporal and spatial scales. We report on the design of an inexpensive collar-mounted recording device and present data on the activity budget of wild mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) derived from these devices applied for a 2-week period. Over 3300 h of acoustical recordings were collected from 10 deer on their winter range in a natural gas extraction field in northwestern Colorado. Analysis of a subset of the data indicated deer spent approximately 33.5% of their time browsing, 20.8% of their time processing food through mastication, and nearly 38.3% of their time digesting through rumination, with marked differences in diel patterning of these activities. Systematic auditory vigilance was a salient activity when masticating, and these data offer options for quantifying wildlife responses to varying listening conditions and predation risk. These results (validated using direct observation) demonstrate that acoustical monitoring is a viable and accurate method for characterizing individual time budgets and behaviors of ungulates, and may provide new insight into the ways external forces affect wildlife behavior.