Monitoring abundance of foxes and cryptic threatened species using microsatellite analysis of faecal pellets.

One of the greatest challenges in endangered animal species management is estimating abundance of endangered animals and the feral pests that contribute to their endangerment. Current methods for estimating abundance and recruitment involve either observation of tracks and signs (which are not easily related to absolute abundance) or capture, mark and release of individuals. Such methods vary in their accuracy and can be time consuming and expensive. Endangered animals can be difficult to study in the wild and trapping and radio tracking can result in stress and even death to animals already at risk from predators and other environmental stresses (Sloane et al., in press). Non-invasive sampling techniques such as genotyping from hair samples has the potential of providing an effective way of censusing endangered animals such as the northern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii) (Sloane et al., in press). Faeces provide a useful indication of a species presence but no accurate means has yet been developed for extrapolating abundance. We are developing methods for DNA profiling from scats as a means of identifying the number of individuals represented in a scat sample collection. The aim of this project is initially to determine whether scats from an animal will provide an accurate means of identifying individuals, particularly compared to tissue or blood samples, and whether non-invasive sampling is an effective way of determining abundance in a field situation.

Author Piggott, M., Taylor, A., Robinson, N., Marks, C., Fisher, P., Mansergh, I. and Temple-Smith, P.
Date 25/10/2000
Year 2000
Secondary title NSW Pest Animal Control Conference: Practical solutions to pest management problems
Place published Conference Location
Publisher NSW Agriculture, Orange
Pages 67-69
Notes Notes
Region VIC