Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Detection dogs spot northern spotted owls, even those alarmed by barred owls

Date:
August 15, 2012
Source:
University of Washington
Summary:
A series of forest searches by dogs specially trained to sniff out northern spotted owl pellets -- the undigested bones, fur and other bits regurgitated by owls -- improved the probability of finding the owls by nearly 30 percent over a series of traditional vocalization surveys.

Max, a member of the University of Washington's Conservation Canines program, pauses after locating a northern spotted owl roosting in a tree in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
Credit: Jennifer Hartman/U of Washington

A series of forest searches by dogs specially trained to sniff out northern spotted owl pellets -- the undigested bones, fur and other bits regurgitated by owls -- improved the probability of finding the owls by nearly 30 percent over a series of traditional vocalization surveys.

Since the 1980s scientists and land managers have relied on vocalization surveys that use simulated northern spotted owl calls to elicit owl responses. As forests have been invaded by barred owls, which displace and even kill spotted owls, concerns have grown that spotted owls may be timid about responding to such vocalization surveys and may open themselves to attack if they do, said Samuel Wasser, University of Washington research professor and director of the UW Center for Conservation Biology.

"Wildlife managers spent years trying to get good forest practices in place that are contingent on spotted owl presence and now the invading barred owl is hindering our ability to show it's there," Wasser said.

"Vocalization surveys have a lot of value and by no means are we suggesting that the dogs should replace the vocalization surveys. But dogs can add value. The dogs have higher detection probabilities than vocalization surveys under some circumstances, can simultaneously detect spotted and barred owls and don't need owls to vocalize to be detected. The vocalization surveys have the advantage of being able to cover a much, much bigger area. The two together would be very complementary."

A comparison of the two approaches, published in a paper Aug. 15 in the Public Library of Sciences journal PLoS One, is based on work in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in northern California.

UW researchers trained Shrek, a Labrador retriever mix, and Max, an Australian cattle dog mix, to locate owl pellets and feces of northern spotted and barred owls at the base of trees where the owls roost. Maps showing the habitat types were used to hone in on the best places to search for roosts. DNA analysis of the samples confirmed the species of owl.

The detection probability for northern spotted owls was 87 percent after three searches by the dogs compared to 59 percent after six vocalization surveys following U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protocols, nearly 30 percent better, Wasser said.

In the study area barred owls were relatively uncommon. The average detection probability was about 20 percent with the dogs compared to about 7 percent using vocalization surveys.

"This was a carefully planned study to try to make everything as equivalent as we could," Wasser said. "More work is needed to determine when the two methods work best together or if one is preferable over the other." The costs of the two approaches were roughly equivalent, he said.

Wasser's co-authors from the UW are Lisa Hayward, Jennifer Hartman, Rebecca Booth, Kristin Broms, Jodi Berg, Elizabeth Seely and Heath Smith, as well as Lyle Lewis, who is retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which funded the work.

"We have forest practices in place to benefit the spotted owl but some are saying, 'Look these restrictions didn't make any difference because the barred owl is just coming in and taking over,'" Wasser said. "We're at risk if we abandon the forest practices before we really have the numbers to understand the tradeoff between forest management and barred owls."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Washington. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Samuel K. Wasser, Lisa S. Hayward, Jennifer Hartman, Rebecca K. Booth, Kristin Broms, Jodi Berg, Elizabeth Seely, Lyle Lewis, Heath Smith. Using Detection Dogs to Conduct Simultaneous Surveys of Northern Spotted (Strix occidentalis caurina) and Barred Owls (Strix varia). PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (8): e42892 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0042892

Cite This Page:

University of Washington. "Detection dogs spot northern spotted owls, even those alarmed by barred owls." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120815174906.htm>.
University of Washington. (2012, August 15). Detection dogs spot northern spotted owls, even those alarmed by barred owls. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120815174906.htm
University of Washington. "Detection dogs spot northern spotted owls, even those alarmed by barred owls." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120815174906.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins