The Great Poo Hunt 2014
Due to advances in technology, analysis of scats from the 2014 survey will also identify what animals (prey) the predators have been eating. The data from this survey will provide valuable information about species distributions and food web interactions in Tasmania. This knowledge will be used to better manage wildlife conservation programs and invasive species in Tasmania.
This survey was conducted to provide an indication of possible fox distribution in Tasmania and allow more effective targeting of eradication operations by the Fox Eradication Program. It was conducted in three phases during 2008-2010 and over 10 000 scats were collected during this time. From these scats, 19 tested positive for fox DNA.
In the three phases of the first survey, around 800 survey units (each 3 x 3 km) were surveyed in three geographic areas:
Scat surveys provide one of the most effective ways to detect elusive animals at low density and have become a key component in monitoring for fox, as well as other invasive species, activity in Tasmania.
Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (IA CRC), will be carrying out another predator scat survey in eastern Tasmania during 2014.
The survey will be undertaken between March and June and between 200-300 survey units will be surveyed. Sites will be selected from those that were used during phases 1 and 2 of the first survey and all sites in which fox positive scats were located during the first survey will be resurveyed in 2014.
This project is designed to gather information that will help identify the location of introduced predators such as feral cats, dogs and foxes, and assess the impact they are having on the Tasmanian environment. Scats from native predators such as Tasmanian devils and quolls will also be collected and examined to gather information about their distribution and diet.
By re-visiting sites that were previously surveyed, important information can be gained about changes in predator and prey distributions in Tasmania. This is particularly important with the decline of Tasmanian devil populations and the potential increase of introduced predators in their place.
An important consideration for the first scat survey, autumn is also the dispersal phase in the fox life cycle, which is when juvenile foxes would be mobile in the landscape and adult foxes are more likely to be holding fixed home ranges.
With recent advances in genetic sequencing technology, a new technique called Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) will be used to not only identify the predator that produced each scat, but also the prey species they had been consuming (including prey provenance ie where the prey came from). NGS is capable of sequencing multiple copies of entire genomes in a single run – this means that every single scat collected will provide a range of information about prey animals and the populations they came from!
NGS will also provide information that can confirm if a scat has come from a predator living in the Tasmanian landscape or not.
All required training will be provided by DPIPWE. Where field sites are remote and require overnight stays, food and accommodation will be provided. If you are able to help out between March and June 2014 and wish to register your interest, please contact the Scat Survey Project Officer via the contact details below.
Contact: Scat Survey Project OfficerElise Dewar
GPO Box 44
Hobart TAS 7000
Phone: 0447 914 626
Visit the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre website.
Department switchboard: 1300 368 550 (local call cost within Australia)
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