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Acoustic Identification of Individuals within Large Avian Populations: A Case Study of the Brownish-Flanked Bush Warbler, South-Central China

posted on 06.08.2012, 00:28 authored by Canwei Xia, Xuanlong Lin, Wei Liu, Huw Lloyd, Yanyun Zhang

Acoustic identification is increasingly being used as a non-invasive method for identifying individuals within avian populations. However, most previous studies have utilized small samples of individuals (<30). The feasibility of using acoustic identification of individuals in larger avian populations has never been seriously tested. In this paper, we assess the feasibility of using distinct acoustic signals to identify individuals in a large avian population (139 colour-banded individuals) of Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler (Cettia fortipes) in the Dongzhai National Nature Reserve, south-central China. Most spectro-temporal variables we measured show greater variation among individuals than within individual. Although there was slight decline in the correct rate of individual identification with increasing sample sizes, the total mean correct rate yielded by discriminant function analysis was satisfactory, with more than 98% of songs correctly recognized to the corresponding individuals. We also found that using a part of randomly selected measured variables was sufficient to obtain a high correct rate of individual identification. We believe that our work will increase confidence in the use of using acoustic recognition techniques for avian population monitoring programs.