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R Soc Open Sci. 2015 Feb 25;2(2):140423. doi: 10.1098/rsos.140423. eCollection 2015 Feb.

Detection dog efficacy for collecting faecal samples from the critically endangered Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli) for genetic censusing.

Author information

1
Department of Primatology , Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology , Deutscher Platz 6, Leipzig 04103, Germany.
2
North Carolina Zoo , 4401 Zoo Parkway, Asheboro, NC 27205, USA.
3
Wildlife Conservation Society , 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10460, USA.
4
Working Dogs for Conservation , 52 Eustis Road, Three Forks, MT 59752, USA.

Abstract

Population estimates using genetic capture-recapture methods from non-invasively collected wildlife samples are more accurate and precise than those obtained from traditional methods when detection and resampling rates are high. Recently, detection dogs have been increasingly used to find elusive species and their by-products. Here we compared the effectiveness of dog- and human-directed searches for Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli) faeces at two sites. The critically endangered Cross River gorilla inhabits a region of high biodiversity and endemism on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon. The rugged highland terrain and their cryptic behaviour make them difficult to study and a precise population size for the subspecies is still lacking. Dog-directed surveys located more fresh faeces with less bias than human-directed survey teams. This produced a more reliable population estimate, although of modest precision given the small scale of this pilot study. Unfortunately, the considerable costs associated with use of the United States-based detection dog teams make the use of these teams financially unfeasible for a larger, more comprehensive survey. To realize the full potential of dog-directed surveys and increase cost-effectiveness, we recommend basing dog-detection teams in the countries where they will operate and expanding the targets the dogs are trained to detect.

KEYWORDS:

apes; canine; genotyping; microsatellite; primates; survey

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