Acoustic monitoring of golden jackals in Europe: setting the frame for future analyses

The golden jackal (Canis aureus) utters complex howls that can be used to monitor their population density and distribution in a specific area. However, little is known of the vocal behaviour of this species. In the present paper, we show the first results of the acoustic analysis that followed the acoustic monitoring of the golden jackal in Friuli–Venezia Giulia during 2011–2013. We estimated the number of callers by screening the fundamental frequency of the emissions within a howl. We analysed 42 vocalizations given by a single jackal or multiple individuals. The howling duration significantly increased with the number of emitters, which ranged between one and three in our estimates. Twenty-nine howls were then submitted to a quantitative semi-automatic analysis procedure based on dynamic time warping. Based on the resulting dissimilarity indices, vocal emissions were clustered in six different acoustically uniform groups, which showed a potential for these procedures to be developed into future monitoring tools. The results suggest the need for integration between jackal howling, bioacoustics and camera trapping.