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Home > Invasive Species > The Great Poo Hunt 2014

The Great Poo Hunt 2014

Staff collecting a scat and recording location data.
Fox Eradication officers in the field
'The Great Poo Hunt' is a scientific survey to collect predator scats (poo) and use genetic testing to identify the animal each scat came from (eg devil, quoll, cat, dog or fox). The survey was first carried out by the Fox Eradication Branch during 2008-2010 and will be repeated by the Invasive Species Branch in 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.

Quick links:

Documents:

Download Predator Scat Survey 2014 as a PDF  Predator Scat Survey 2014
(PDF: 410 KB / 2 pages) 
 

This is a Portable Document Format (PDF) file and requires the use of Adobe Acrobat Reader. The Reader is easy to download and is free of charge.


Download Scat survey information for volunteers as a PDF  Scat survey information for volunteers
(PDF: 268 KB / 3 pages) 
 

This is a Portable Document Format (PDF) file and requires the use of Adobe Acrobat Reader. The Reader is easy to download and is free of charge.


Background

Prior to 2007, a growing body of evidence pointed to fox activity in Tasmania, sparking the roll-out of a statewide predator scat survey, affectionately known as ‘The Great Poo Hunt'.

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:
  • Phase 1: north-east Tasmania (2008)
  • Phase 2: central and southern Tasmania (2009)
  • Phase 3: north-west Tasmania (2010)

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.



SCat Survey 2008-2010
SCat Survey 2014
First Predator Scat Survey: 2008-2010
(Fox Eradication Branch)
Second Predator Scat Survey: 2014
(Invasive Species Branch)


Poo Hunt v2.0

As part of an expanded monitoring program to help manage invasive species in Tasmania, the Invasive Species Branch in partnership with the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research CentreYou are now leaving our site. DPIPWE is not responsible for the content of the web site to which you are going. The link does not constitute any form of endorsement (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.


Survey design

The scat surveys are conducted in areas classified as ‘core fox habitat’ in Tasmania, which is largely made up of open landscapes, such as agricultural land and grasslands, and the bordering areas of natural bushland. Surveys are conducted on foot in autumn as shorter grass at this time offers the greatest chance of locating scats.

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.


Tasmanian scat that tested positive for fox DNA (2008).
Fox scat

Scat analysis

All scats collected will be analysed through the latest DNA analysis techniques at the Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra. In the past, DNA testing involved the use of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) analysis. This technique was used to identify whether a scat contained fox positive DNA or not, but did not give information about other species.

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!


Definitive results

By examining DNA of prey species found in predator scats we may also be able to detect some rare native mammal species such as the New Holland mouse Pseudomys novaehollandiae or Tasmanian pygmy possum Cercartetus lepidus that are difficult to find in the wild and in some instances have not been formally recorded for many years.

NGS will also provide information that can confirm if a scat has come from a predator living in the Tasmanian landscape or not.


Innovative field test

In addition to the NGS technology, the upcoming survey will also be trialling a new field DNA swab test that has the potential to provide rapid predator identifications, possibly in less than 48 hours.

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Volunteer for the Poo Crew!

We need your help! Predator scat surveys are a big job and the ISB requires volunteers to help carry out the field surveys. If you enjoy working in the outdoors, have good observations skills and concentration, a good level of fitness and want to help protect Tasmania from invasive species, then get involved!


Why volunteer?

  • Be part of a small team working with scientists and ecologists
  • Get off the beaten track on Tasmania’s east coast
  • Gain field experience in wildlife surveys
  • Help in innovative research that will allow better management of Tasmania’s invasive species
  • Meet interesting people and make new friends


How to become involved

For information about volunteering for The Great Poo Hunt, see the following document:


Download Scat survey information for volunteers as a PDF  Scat survey information for volunteers
(PDF: 268 KB / 3 pages) 
 

This is a Portable Document Format (PDF) file and requires the use of Adobe Acrobat Reader. The Reader is easy to download and is free of charge.



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.


Further information

For more information about The Great Poo Hunt, please contact:
Contact: Scat Survey Project Officer
Elise Dewar
Project Officer
GPO Box 44
Hobart TAS 7000
Phone: 0447 914 626
Email: Elise.Dewar@dpipwe.tas.gov.au


Visit the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research CentreYou are now leaving our site. DPIPWE is not responsible for the content of the web site to which you are going. The link does not constitute any form of endorsement website.

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