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Dogs are now nature’s best friend, too

Dogs are now nature’s best friend, too

The endangered Tiger Quoll.

Dogs are now nature’s best friend, too—27 November 2017

A new study, with support from the Australian Research Council (ARC), has found that dogs can greatly aid conservation efforts in finding rare species by smelling out their poo.

‘Dogs have been trained to find evidence of the elusive and endangered Tiger Quoll by finding where they go to the toilet,’ says Ms Emma Bennett, a PhD candidate at Monash University. ‘Tiger Quolls were only rediscovered in 2012 in the Great Otway National Park as they’re camera shy, and have a home range of about 500 hectares, so opportunistic sightings are rare – for humans, at least.’

‘You can analyse the DNA in the scats and look at sex, diet, and distribution. The trained dogs can provide a non-invasive alternative to trapping for some animals, which reduces stress and the risk of injuries.’

Ms Bennett hopes the study will raise awareness about the role volunteer dog handling programs play in conservation efforts.

‘The results of this study will be essential in forming guidelines for volunteer dog handling programs. While the study is focused on dogs detecting the Tiger Quoll, it can certainly be expanded to other threatened species.’

Ms Bennett is a member of the Moore Plant Ecology and Conservation Group, led by her supervisor, ARC-funded researcher Dr Joslin Moore, and is also collaborating with Dr Cindy Hauser, from The University of Melbourne. In addition to ARC support, her research is funded by Monash University, and the non-profit organisation Conservation Ecology Centre.

Media issued by the Ecological Society of Australia.

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