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1 September 2005 Assessment of scat-detection dog surveys to determine kit fox distribution
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Abstract

Developing sound conservation strategies for carnivores in fragmented landscapes relies on accurate distribution information. Fecal (scat) surveys can provide an effective survey technique, especially when collection of scats is followed by genetic analysis of DNA extracted from scats. Furthermore, use of specially trained detection dogs to locate scats on survey routes may greatly enhance scat recovery. We evaluated utility of scat-detection dog surveys as a method to determine current distribution of kit foxes (Vulpes macrotis mutica). We used a trained dog to locate scats in core and satellite population areas with various densities and different habitat conditions. We compared number of scats found per kilometer on transects along different road and vegetation types. Scat-detection dog surveys detected the presence of kit foxes in each population area searched, regardless of relative fox density and vegetation type. We found a greater number of scats on unpaved than paved roads, suggesting unpaved roads are more appropriate for monitoring of foxes. Additionally, we found a greater number of scats in saltbush (Atriplex polycarpa) scrub than in non-native grassland. This result was strongly influenced by latitude, and was probably related to a north–south precipitation gradient. Our results demonstrate that scat-detection dog surveys can provide an effective conservation tool to map current kit fox distribution. This survey method has a wide application to other carnivore species, and can be used to survey multiple species simultaneously.

Deborah A. Smith, Katherine Ralls, Brian L. Cypher, and Jesús E. Maldonado "Assessment of scat-detection dog surveys to determine kit fox distribution," Wildlife Society Bulletin 33(3), (1 September 2005). https://doi.org/10.2193/0091-7648(2005)33[897:AOSDST]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 September 2005
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