CANINE SCENT DETECTION SURVEYS AS AN EFFECTIVE TOOL TO IDENTIFY CALIFORNIA TIGER SALAMANDERS IN UPLAND HABITAT IN EASTERN ALAMEDA COUNTY.
Jerry D. Roe; Sapere Environmental; 135 Glasgow Circle, Danville, CA, 94526; (925) 719-1916; jroe@sapereenv.com; Travis Mccleary
A canine trained to detect the residual scent of California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) was employed along portions of a 5-mile gas pipeline for the Pacific Gas & Electric Company's Gas Line 131 R-649, 700 & 707 Replacement Project in northern Livermore, Alameda County, California. The canine surveyed 50 feet on either side of the alignment using meandering transects. Surveys were initiated during early morning hours within 30 minutes of sunrise to take advantage of favorable weather conditions and focused on sections of the alignment with suitable habitat including small mammal burrows and soil fissures were present. A total of 20 positive alerts were recorded. Habitat features were detected using a combination of air scenting followed by ground tracking to the source, e.g. burrows (ground squirrel and gopher) and fissures in the soil. Detection alerts were categorized into priority levels based on the handler's and biologist's confidence of the alert and presence of habitat features: Priority 1 - point source location, high probability of California tiger salamander occupancy; Priority 2 - localized area (scent pool), high likelihood of recent occupancy; and Priority 3 - localized scent pool but site lacked observable habitat features, presence unlikely. This case study suggests that training the canine on multiple scent sources, i.e. scat, carcasses, and live California tiger salamanders is critical to generalize the canine on the residual scent of both live and dead individuals and the importance of conducting surveys in favorable weather conditions to maximize scent detection.
Ecology and Conservation of Amphibians and Reptiles I