Device may tell more about wolves by examining scat

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Device may tell more about wolves by examining scat

Post by Koa » Thu Jun 18, 2015 11:07 am

Catch a whiff? Device aims to reveal age, gender, and identity of endangered wolves from the scent of their poop

Rebecca Kessler
June 11, 2015


Wolves use their noses to track their quarry by its scent. Now a scientist is turning the tables, building a handheld device that analyzes the odor of wolf scat to determine the age, gender, and individual identity of the animal that left it.

The goal is to improve estimates of the size and demographics of endangered Mexican gray wolf populations, and ultimately to help bring back the wolf and restore greater balance to the forests of the southwestern U.S. and Mexico.

The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) is "the smallest, southern-most occurring, rarest, and most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf in North America," according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) website.
For the full article, please go here: http://news.mongabay.com/2015/0611-kess ... z3dQzMq9e2
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Re: Device may tell more about wolves by examining scat

Post by Nordue » Thu Jun 18, 2015 2:42 pm

  • That is pretty interesting! I can attest to the cost of genetic analyses like DNA barcoding, where extraction, amplification and sequencing per sample is costly. I can't come up with a price off of the top of my head though. Too many reagents and other factors like paying the person doing it.

    That's interesting how they can extract the same sort of information as a genetic analyses might, but the accuracy isn't very impressive for more fine grain studies. DNA barcoding has a much more reliable identification than this gas chromatography method, but then again barcoding cannot identify individuals, only haplotypes and species.

    I would be interested to find the papers about this. I am wondering if anyone has barcoded Mexican gray wolf scat!

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Re: Device may tell more about wolves by examining scat

Post by Obedear » Sun Jun 21, 2015 7:01 pm

It's truly sad that someone would want to eradicate an animal. However, I understand the need to protect livestock. I just hope that nature will find a balance, and that the Mexican grays might one day flourish again. Kudos to Burnham! I hope his methods prove valuable in the research of this species. Interesting find, Koa.
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Re: Device may tell more about wolves by examining scat

Post by Koa » Mon Jun 22, 2015 1:18 pm

Nordue wrote:
  • That is pretty interesting! I can attest to the cost of genetic analyses like DNA barcoding, where extraction, amplification and sequencing per sample is costly. I can't come up with a price off of the top of my head though. Too many reagents and other factors like paying the person doing it.

    That's interesting how they can extract the same sort of information as a genetic analyses might, but the accuracy isn't very impressive for more fine grain studies. DNA barcoding has a much more reliable identification than this gas chromatography method, but then again barcoding cannot identify individuals, only haplotypes and species.

    I would be interested to find the papers about this. I am wondering if anyone has barcoded Mexican gray wolf scat!
You certainly know more about the technical side of DNA and various methods than I do, so I'll take your word for it. :wink: Though, I can certainly understand it being rather costly.
Opheya wrote:It's truly sad that someone would want to eradicate an animal. However, I understand the need to protect livestock. I just hope that nature will find a balance, and that the Mexican grays might one day flourish again. Kudos to Burnham! I hope his methods prove valuable in the research of this species. Interesting find, Koa.
It is a rather complicated matter. In regards to Mexican wolves "flourishing again," I regret that I am not as hopeful. If you'd like, you can certainly provide your thoughts/opinions in this thread, as well:
http://www.wolfquest.org/bb/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=71409
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Re: Device may tell more about wolves by examining scat

Post by Kittea » Mon Jun 22, 2015 8:42 pm

This is a truly fascinating idea, I would like to hear the findings of said device when that report comes out!
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Re: Device may tell more about wolves by examining scat

Post by Nor-easter Forecast » Tue Jun 23, 2015 9:21 am

This is an amazing idea! Talk about biomimicry–scat was meant to be sniffed. I really hope it takes off with wolves and other endangered animals.

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Post by kittenluver » Mon Aug 22, 2016 4:00 pm

A Device tracking a wolf's information by scanning it's feces. Interesting.
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