Estimating moose density using scat
Beginning in summer 2016, the research team will deploy three teams of scat-detection dogs to locate moose scats on 90 transects across the Adirondack Park. These dogs are incredibly adept at locating and identifying animal scats – even having the ability to differentiate between closely related species of animals. The researchers will collect samples of moose scat and analyze the genetic material left on the scats from the moose to identify individuals. Using this method we can learn where individuals have been moving based on where we find their scats. This information regarding moose space use is valuable information to be used in a spatial capture-recapture analysis whereby the abundance of moose in New York and their local densities can be estimated. The research teams will be sampling the transects beginning in June 2016 until the end of August 2016, and they will do so for three years.
The information regarding moose density and space use is important for state wildlife managers, and this and other research efforts contribute to this end. This study will also attempt to address the ecology of some of the diseases that may be affecting moose, most notably the brain worm (Parelaphostrongylus tenuis) and the liver fluke (Fascioloides magna) by measuring infection prevalence in white-tailed deer (the definitive hosts in which the parasites reproduce) scats and gastropods (intermediate hosts in which the parasites mature).