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Three very good dogs – named Bayar, Judd and Sasha – have sniffed out the endangered Alpine Stonefly, one of the smallest animals a dog has been trained to successfully detect in its natural habitat.
The conservation of threatened species is frequently hampered by the lack of relevant data on their distributions. This is particularly true for insects, where the difficulty of garnering simple information means the threatened status of many species remains unrecognised and unmanaged.
Areas - Need - Methods - Distribution - Abundance
In alpine areas there is a pressing need for innovative methods to better reveal the distribution and abundance of threatened insects.
Alpine regions rely on cool temperatures, and since climate change will bring warmer weather and lower rainfalls, insects like the Alpine Stonefly, which lives in the alpine freshwater system, will struggle to survive.
Insects - Everyone - Ecosystem - Function
And while insects might not be appealing to everyone, they are extremely important for ecosystem function.
Traditional survey detection methods are often labour intensive, and hard-to-find species provide limited information. This is where the labrador, border collie and samoyed came to the rescue.
La - Trobe - Anthrozoology - Research - Group
La Trobe's Anthrozoology Research Group Dog Lab in Bendigo, Victoria have been training a pool of local community volunteers and their dogs in conservation detection to use with environmental DNA sampling. Using both environmental DNA and detection dogs has the potential to generate a lot of meaningful data on these threatened stoneflies.
For seven weeks in a special program, dogs were trained to memorise the odour of the Alpine Stonefly (Thaumatoperla alpina), a threatened but iconic insect in the high plains.
Dogs - Nests - Faeces - Animal - Approach
The dogs have previously been trained to sniff out animal nests or faeces but not an animal itself, so this was a new approach and an Australian first.
The Alpine Stonefly are brightly coloured aquatic insects and are difficult to find, especially as larvae in water where they live as predators for up to two...
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