Application of a semi-automated vocal fingerprinting approach to monitor Bornean gibbon females in an experimentally fragmented landscape in Sabah, Malaysia
Vocal individuality has been documented in a variety of mammalian species and it has been proposed that this individuality can be used as a vocal fingerprint to monitor individuals. Here we provide and test a classification method using Mel-frequency cepstral coefficients (MFCCs) to extract features from Bornean gibbon female calls. Our method is semi-automated as it requires manual pre-processing to identify and extract calls from the original recordings. We compared two methods of MFCC feature extraction: (1) averaging across all time windows and (2) creating a standardized number of time windows for each call. We analysed 376 calls from 33 gibbon females and, using linear discriminant analysis, found that we were able to improve female identification accuracy from 95.7% with spectrogram features to 98.4% accuracy when averaging MFCCs across time windows, and 98.9% accuracy when using a standardized number of windows. We divided our data randomly into training and test data-sets, and tested the accuracy of support vector machine (SVM) predictions over 100 iterations. We found that we could predict female identity in the test data-set with a 98.8% accuracy. Using SVM on our entire data-set, we were able to predict female identity with 99.5% accuracy (validated by leave-one-out cross-validation). Lastly, we used the method presented here to classify four females recorded during three or more recording seasons using SVM with limited success. We provide evidence that MFCC feature extraction is effective for distinguishing between female Bornean gibbons, and make suggestions for future vocal fingerprinting applications.