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Detection dogs allow for systematic non-invasive collection of DNA samples from Eurasian lynx
- Hollerbach, Laura, Heurich, Marco, Reiners, Tobias Erik, Nowak, Carsten
- Mammalian biology = 2018 v.90 pp. 42-46
- DNA, Lynx lynx, camera trapping, dogs, feces, forest roads, genetic variation, models, national parks, population growth, probability, surveys, Central European region, Germany
- As Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) show signs of population recovery in parts of Central Europe, sound monitoring strategies are required to study population expansion, connectivity and genetic diversity. While non-invasive DNA sampling strategies could serve this task, genetic samples of lynx are generally hard to locate. To test the suitability of dog-based sampling we searched scat samples of lynx in the Bavarian Forest National Park, Germany, with two trained detection dog teams. In 44 grid cells of 2 × 2 km, dog teams covered 440 km of predetermined forest road and hiking trail transects during the four week survey. A total of 169 collected samples resulted in 52 genetically confirmed lynx detections, of which 26 were assigned to 11 individuals. Using a single-season site occupancy model we found a detection probability of 0.13/km (SD = 0.02), with 10 km of dog search per grid cell required to get a 70 % probability to detect lynx presence. Our results show that detection dogs are an appropriate tool for systematic genetic lynx monitoring. We argue that detection dog-assisted genetic monitoring may supplement monitoring strategies based on conventional camera trapping, especially when aiming to monitor genetic diversity and population connectivity.