Apport de la bioacoustique pour le suivi d’une espèce discrète : le Loup gris (Canis lupus)

Abstract : The growing number of studies carried out in recent years has shown that bioacoustics is particularly interesting for the monitoring of secretive species. The emergence of autonomous recording devices, combined with new methods of analysis, have recently contributed to the increase of studies in this field. Over the last 30 years, many bioacoustic studies have been developed for the Grey wolf (Canis lupus), a secretive large carnivore known for its howls spreading over distances up to several kilometers. These researches notably aimed to improve its monitoring, which is complex because of the strong wolf dispersal capacities over long distances, the large extent of their territories and the various natural contexts in which they live. In this context, this PhD thesis was organized around three research axes. The first two axes focused on the contribution of passive bioacoustics for the Grey wolf monitoring in the field. By combining acoustic, statistical and cartographic analysis, the first objective was to develop a spatial sampling method adapted to large study areas for the detection of wolf howls by using autonomous recorders. Then, the same protocol was used to investigate the possibility to localize wolves thanks to their howls. Field experimentations, conducted in mid-mountain (Massif des Vosges) and lowland (Côtes de Meuse) environments, in two study areas of 30 km² and with an array of 20 autonomous recorders, demonstrated the high potential of passive bioacoustics for the Grey wolf monitoring. Indeed, nearly 70% of broadcasts (synthetic sound with similar acoustic properties to howls) were detected by at least one autonomous recorder in mid-mountain environment and more than 80% in lowland environment, for sound source-recorders distances of up to 2.7 km and 3.5 km respectively. By using statistical model and Geographic Information System, the detection probability of wolf howls was modeled in both study areas. In the mid-mountain environment, this detection probability was high or very high (greater than 0.5) in 5.72 km² of the study area, compared with 21.43 km² in lowland environment. The broadcast sites were localized with an overall mean accuracy of 315 ± 617 (SD) m, reducing until 167 ± 308 (SD) m after setting a temporal error threshold defined from the data distribution. The third axe focused on the application of acoustic diversity indices to estimate the number of howling wolves in choruses and thus to contribute to pack size monitoring. Index values of the six indices (H, Ht, Hf, AR, M, and ACI) were positively correlated with the number of howling wolves in the artificial tested choruses. Interesting size predictions based on real choruses were obtained with one of the indices (ACI). The effects of several biases on the reference values for the acoustic indices were then explored, showing that three of them were relatively insensitive (Hf, AR and, ACI). Finally, results obtained with autonomous recorders confirm the real potential of passive acoustic methods for detecting the presence of wolves but also for localizing individuals with high precision, in contrasting natural environments, at large spatial and temporal scales. The use of acoustic diversity indices also opens new perspectives for estimating pack sizes. All of the promising methods emerging from this thesis require now further investigations before considering a concrete application for monitoring the Grey wolf in its natural environment.
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Morgane Papin. Apport de la bioacoustique pour le suivi d’une espèce discrète : le Loup gris (Canis lupus). Ecologie, Environnement. Université de Lorraine, 2018. Français. ⟨NNT : 2018LORR0258⟩. ⟨tel-02127261⟩

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