Send to

Choose Destination
J Acoust Soc Am. 2019 Mar;145(3):1619. doi: 10.1121/1.5092973.

Tracking cryptic animals using acoustic multilateration: A system for long-range wolf detection.

Author information

Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Cooperative Predator Vocalization Consortium, Daytona Beach, Florida 32174, USA.
Department of Philosophy, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana 59717, USA.


The study of animal behavior in the wild requires the ability to locate and observe animals with the minimum disturbance to their natural behavior. This can be challenging for animals that avoid humans, are difficult to detect, or range widely between sightings. Global Positioning System (GPS) collars provide one solution but limited battery life, and the disturbance to the animal caused by capture and collaring can make this impractical in many applications. Wild wolves Canis lupus are an example of a species that is difficult to study in the wild, yet are of considerable conservation and management importance. This manuscript presents a system for accurately locating wolves using differences in the time of arrival of howl vocalizations at multiple recorders (multilateration), synchronized via GPS. This system has been deployed in Yellowstone National Park for two years and has recorded over 1200 instances of howling behavior. As most instances of howling occur at night, or when human observers are not physically present, the system provides location information that would otherwise be unavailable to researchers. The location of a vocalizing animal can, under some circumstances, be determined to within an error of approximately 20 m and at ranges up to 7 km.


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Institute of Physics
Loading ...
Support Center