ESR 32:459-470 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00829

Individual signatures in the vocal repertoire of the endangered Mediterranean monk seal: new perspectives for population monitoring

Isabelle Charrier1,*, Schédir Marchesseau1, Panagiotis Dendrinos2, Eleni Tounta2, Alexandros A. Karamanlidis2

1Université Paris-Saclay, Université Paris-Sud, CNRS, UMR 9197, Institut des Neurosciences Paris-Saclay, 91405 Orsay, France
2MOm/Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal, Solomou Str. 18, 10682 Athens, Greece
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus is considered Endangered by the IUCN, and is the most endangered pinniped in the world. Increasing our knowledge of this species is crucial in order to further our understanding of its social behaviour, but also to develop new methods to monitor and protect it. In many species, acoustic communication plays a major role in social interactions, and vocal signals convey important information about the emitter; understanding the diverse information encoded in vocalizations is helpful in wildlife monitoring. In the present study, we used passive, audio-video surveys to describe the aerial vocal repertoire of the Mediterranean monk seal during the pupping season. An exhaustive analysis was performed on the different call types, and individual vocal signatures were investigated. A total of 5 call types were identified: bark, chirp, grunt, short scream and scream, with bark and scream being the 2 main call types. A discriminant function analysis based on 10 acoustic variables revealed that all call types except grunts can be correctly classified, with an average rate of 86.7%. Furthermore, the individual vocal signature investigated in barks and screams revealed that both call types are individually specific, showing average correct classification rates of 54.2 and 66.1% respectively. Based on these findings, future research should focus on collecting new recordings from well-identified seals to develop a new passive acoustic monitoring system based on individual identification. This system will enable the evaluation of annual pup production and thus provide essential information on the conservation status of the Mediterranean monk seal in Greece.


KEY WORDS: Acoustic monitoring · Eastern Mediterranean Sea · Monachus monachus · Vocal repertoire · Individual signature


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Cite this article as: Charrier I, Marchesseau S, Dendrinos P, Tounta E, Karamanlidis AA (2017) Individual signatures in the vocal repertoire of the endangered Mediterranean monk seal: new perspectives for population monitoring. Endang Species Res 32:459-470. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00829

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