Performance of autonomous recorders to detect a cryptic and endangered primate species, the black lion-tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysopygus)

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Information about species distribution is important for conservation but the monitoring of populations can demand a high sampling effort with traditional methods (e.g., line transects, sound playback) that are poorly efficient for cryptic primates, such as the black lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysopygus). Here we investigated the effectiveness of passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) as an alternative method to identify the presence of vocalizing lion tamarins in the wild. We aimed to: (1) determine the maximum distance at which autonomous recorders (Song Meter 3) and Raven Pro acoustic software can respectively detect and identify lion tamarin long calls emitted by two captive subjects (ex situ study); and (2) determine the sampling effort required to confirm the presence of the species in the wild (in situ study). In captive settings, we recorded lion tamarin long calls with one to two autonomous recorders operating at increasing distances from the animals' enclosure (8−202 m). In a 515 ha forest fragment, we deployed 12 recorders in a grid, 300 m apart from each other, within the estimated 100 ha home range of one group, and let them record for 10 consecutive days, totaling 985 h. In the ex situ study, hand-browsing of spectrograms yielded 298 long calls emitted from 8 to 194 m, and Raven's Template Detector identified 54.6% of them, also emitted from 8 to 194 m. In the in situ study, we manually counted 1115 long calls, and the Raven's Template Detector identified 44.75% of them. Furthermore, the presence of lion tamarins was confirmed within 1 day using four randomly sorted recorders, whereas 5 days on average were necessary with only one device. While specific protocols still need to be developed to determine primate population size using this technology, we concluded that PAM is a promising tool when considering long term costs and benefits.



field method, long call, passive acoustic monitoring, survey, vocalization

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American Journal of Primatology, v. 85, n. 1, 2023.