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Dung pellet identification of sympatric ungulate species: an experiment

AuthorsGálvez Bravo, Lucía ; Cristóbal, Ignacio
Issue Date2011
CitationXXXth IUGB Congress and Perdix XIII (2011)
AbstractFaeces are widely used as an indirect method for wildlife monitoring. However, sometimes there is a high risk of misidentification in the field, especially with increasing numbers of similar sympatric species. The aim of this study was to conduct a blind test of ungulate dung identification and to determine accuracy in the identification of different ungulate species through their dung pellets. For the blind test, a total of 22 experimental subjects (13 males and 9 females) were recruited, all staff from the Spanish Institute of Wildlife Research (IREC) at Ciudad Real, Spain. In the lab, subjects were presented with 35 dung samples from 4 species: red deer (Cervus elaphus), Iberian ibex (Capra pyrenaica), aoudad (Ammotragus lervia) and mouflon (Ovis orientalis musimon). Prior to the test, the subjects were given a briefing about the usual morphological criteria used to assign dung to a certain species and were shown samples of known origin. Subjects were given 20 seconds to identify each numbered sample. When time was over, the subject proceeded onto the next sample. Subjects were not aware of how many samples of each species were included in the test. Mean correct identification of dung samples was 63%. Mouflon was the species with the highest rate of correct identifications, and aoudad was the species with the least correct identifications. There were no significant differences between male and female subjects in overall successful identification of dung samples. Results confirm that there is relatively high uncertainty in the identification of dung pellets of ungulate species living in sympatry. This uncertainty can be reduced with preliminary training and unification of criteria under specific field conditions. We recommend that tests similar to the one presented should be carried out when several observers are involved in dung counts for wildlife monitoring purposes.
DescriptionResumen del póster presentado al XXXth International Union of Game Biologists and Perdix XIII, celebrados en Barcelona (España) del 5 al 9 de septiembre de 2011.
Appears in Collections:(IREC) Comunicaciones congresos
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