This release is available in Spanish.
Arlington, Virginia (May 12, 2008) Its a tough job, but somebody, or at least some dogs, have to do it.
In the Cerrado region of Brazil, four dogs trained to detect animal feces by scent are helping researchers monitor rare and threatened wildlife such as jaguar, tapir, giant anteater and maned wolf in and around Emas National Park, a protected area with the largest concentration of threatened species in Brazil.
The researchers analyze feces found by the dogs to learn about where and how the threatened mammals live. Data such as numbers, range, diet, hormonal stress, parasites and even genetic identity contribute to a study of how the mammals use environments inside and outside the park, especially on privately owned lands of the region.
The information helps develop conservation and development strategies that meet the needs of both the animals and local farmers. The dogs are rewarded for their good work with tennis balls to chase and chomp.
The project is led by Carly Vynne of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington as part of her doctoral thesis, in partnership with Conservation International (CI) Brazil.
After a brief pilot study in 2004, research began in 2006 in a 3,000-square-kilometer (equivalent to 300,000 soccer fields) area in the western portion of Emas National Park and surrounding farms in Mato Grosso do Sul state and Gois state.
Now nearing conclusion, the projects analysis of feces samples shows that all the species studied use the area surrounding the park, but that farms with less than 30 percent of natural vegetation cover have fewer endangered mammals. Jaguar, however, rarely moved outside the protected park into the more deforested surrounding farmland, as they require the healthy ecosystems of conserved environments. According to Vynne, preservation of open grasslands should be a pri
|Contact: Susan Bruce|