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Sign surveys for red fox (Vulpes vulpes) censuses: evaluating different sources of variation in scat detectability
- Cortázar-Chinarro, María, Halvarsson, Peter, Virgós, Emilio
- Mammal research 2019 v.64 no.2 pp. 183-190
- Vulpes vulpes, censuses, feces, foxes, monitoring, rocks, wildlife
- Wildlife monitoring is essential for assessing the size of species of conservation or management concern. Wildlife monitoring could be undertaken by selected volunteers when limited resources are available. Here, we study the sources of variation in the detectability of red fox scats and to improve the monitoring of the species by means of volunteers who were briefly trained. We selected nine transects to experimentally evaluate the differences in red fox scat detectability between observers, microsite, and scat abundance. Scats were deposited in five microsites, where we simulate low, medium, and high fox scat abundance. We tested the proposed effects by using GLMM analysis incorporating observer effect as a random factor. Our results indicated effects on scat detectability of observer identity and microsite type. We did not observe the effects of scat abundance on detectability of scats. Detectability was lower for scats located in the middle of the transect and on the rocks. We conclude that large-scale red foxes surveys might be conducted using volunteers, but due to the moderate differences detected among observers should be minimized using a training period.