- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Island Press; 2 edition (May 30, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 159726119X
- ISBN-13: 978-1597261197
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1 x 11 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,117,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Noninvasive Survey Methods for Carnivores 2nd Edition
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The key focus of this book is noninvasive methods--what does that mean and why is it important? The editors define noninvasive as, "not requiring target animals to be directly observed or handled by the surveyor" (p. 1). Animals may be observed on camera, their tracks can be imprinted, or samples of their hair can be obtained--there are numerous noninvasive methods, all of which are described in detail in this book. While invasive methods (live trapping and radio-telemetry) can provide high resolution data with just a few individuals, noninvasive survey methods can be deployed over large areas and are capable of monitoring entire populations Although not mentioned in the book, noninvasive methods don't necessarily require the "take" permits from federal and state agencies that live trapping does, allowing researchers to avoid a lengthy permitting process and to complete surveys quickly during the appropriate season.
Why carnivores? Carnivores are "frequently evaluated as potential focal species for regional conservation efforts and ecosystem management" (p. 227). Carnivores with large landscape needs, such as the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos), are often "umbrella" species, on the idea that the area of habitat required to support viable and sustainable populations will protect habitat for other species with smaller area requirements, thus advancing the agenda of wildlife conservation. Noninvasive Survey Methods provides researchers with the tools to ensure that future research involving carnivore conservation remains feasible and possible with the use of noninvasive survey methods.
The book is divided into 12 chapters, covering noninvasive survey methods, statistical analyses, genetic analysis methods, and survey design. The chapters are arranged chronologically according to the appearance of the particular method in the field: natural sign (tracks and scats), track stations, remote cameras, hair snag devices and collection, and scat detection dogs. At the end of most chapters the editors included interesting case studies as examples of practical "in the field" applications of the methods discussed in the chapter. Other chapters included useful glossaries to expand on method-specific terms that may have otherwise been unclear to the reader; appendices that included complex data sets or field data form examples for others to use in their projects; and tables, graphics, and figures to enhance clarity and readability.
The editors emphasize that the book is a comprehensive guidebook--guiding researchers along practical routes to accomplish their research goals. Much of the volume focuses on four important research objectives: assessing occurrence and distribution, assessing relative abundance, estimating abundance, and monitoring. As always, the most suitable study design will depend on the survey objectives, ecology and population status of the target carnivore, where the survey will take place, and logistical constraints:
Designing a study is as much an art as a science. Theoretical and simulation results provide useful guidance about the expected outcome of a study given certain assumptions, analytic techniques and designs. But these results must be tempered with common sense, expert knowledge of the system under study, and occasionally, lateral thinking (p. 40).
The beauty of this book is that the editors and authors have done a lot of legwork for researchers interested in using noninvasive survey methods. They have evaluated each method, provided the pros and cons of each method and its effectiveness in detecting target species, and recommended which method should be used for certain research objectives. The authors remind us that:
the lack of clear objectives will often lead to endless debate about design issues as there has been no specification for how the collected data will be used in relation to science and/or management; hence judgments about the `right' data to be collected cannot be made (pp. 39-40).
The book encourages creativity and using one noninvasive survey method either in conjunction with or prior to another method for better survey results, provided the methods do not interfere with one another. Running detection dogs through a study site to determine the species baseline inventory before setting up camera or track stations is a good idea because these stations typically use scent lure that "unnaturally" attract target species from outside of the study site. Some noninvasive methods can also be used to record the effectiveness of another noninvasive method, such as using a remote still or video camera to record carnivore behaviors around hair snags.
While this book offers much information on various noninvasive survey methods, there are still research gaps that need to be filled. The use of digital remote cameras is fairly new and the advantages and effectiveness over older technology (film cameras) appear to be obvious; however, more side-by-side comparisons are required, including comparing one digital camera design over another. Other research to scientifically test the variety of scent and long distance calling lures that are on the market is needed; a wide variety of carnivores are attracted to skunk-based scent lures, but ironically, there is very little effort to evaluate methods to detect skunks themselves (pp. 281 and 317).
The book had very few type setting errors and was essentially free of misspelled or misplaced words. The editors noted that they generally followed the taxonomy of Wilson and Reeder (2005), and indeed only one inconsistency was found. On page 50, the feral cat was identified as "Felis silvestris catus," whereas in other places in the book feral cats were classified as "Felis catus" (pp. 88 and 146). One page 255 the African elephant was written as "Loxodonta Africana" with the specific epithet capitalized; but this was likely an unintentional error (an artifact of spell-check programs). On page 211, the authors used the term "data" as a singular rather than a plural term, i.e., "this data" rather than "these data."
As with any book written by several authors, unique writing styles are evident. For example, chapter 4 was a rather difficult chapter to read, even though the subject matter was straightforward and should have been easy to understand. I had to re-read several sections in order to identify the main point the authors were trying to make. In contrast, chapter 5 was a pleasure to read; it is very well written with excellent flow. The book has proven to be a very useful guide in the field of noninvasive survey methods, and any researcher interested in conducting a study using one or more of the methods discussed should take advantage of this book. A book summarizing noninvasive survey methods was overdue, and the editors and authors have outdone themselves in advancing the field; I hope, as a researcher, that this book will become an important cornerstone in carnivore conservation biology.