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Otters reveal their identity
Date:6/5/2008

ing to involve numerous people in observing the area on a daily basis. It does not necessarily have to be the faeces that are collected, as it is also possible to use hair. The main thing is to get hold of the DNA. In the future this will be the standard method of estimating population sizes of cryptic species", Bernd Gruber assumes. But as is often the case, the curse lies in the detail: Attempts to determine the population size of wild cats failed several years ago, because insufficient cat hair stuck to the adhesive strips that had been set up for the samples. In spite of such setbacks Simone Lampa is also still optimistic that in the future genetic analyses will be able to tell us a lot more about wild animal populations: "In principle our procedure is applicable to all vertebrates. We just need to find the appropriate genetic markers, which mark the crucial DNA segments in the genome. These already exist for several mammal species."

So far, researchers cannot say exactly how many otters are now living in the Oberlausitz. To do so they still have to collect faecal samples from a number of places, but for a small region reliable data now exists: At the 305 hectare-study site between Hoyerswerda and Bautzen there are 32-40 otters. The new method has helped us considerably in finding out more about this majestic nocturnal swimmer in the ponds of the Lausitz.


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Contact: Tilo Arnhold
presse@ufz.de
49-341-235-1635
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert  

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