Comparing detection dog and livetrapping surveys for a cryptic rodent

Jennifer Duggan, E. J. Heske, Robert Schooley, A. Hurt, A. Whitelaw

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We compared the effectiveness and cost of distribution surveys using livetrapping to those using detection dog-handler teams for a cryptic rodent (Franklin's ground squirrel [ Poliocitellus franklinii ]). We livetrapped at 62 sites in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin for Franklin's ground squirrels in 2007–2009 and surveyed 40 of those sites using detection dogs in 2009. Independent surveys of a site by 2 dog-handler teams took <1 hr and yielded detection rates comparable to 2 daily livetrapping surveys (detection rate = 83–84%). However, false presences are a potential problem when detection dogs are trained to scent of a species that leaves little visual sign to confirm its presence. Surveys by 2 dog-handler teams cost >2 daily livetrapping surveys conducted by 2 technicians but more and larger sites can be surveyed by dog-handler teams in a shorter time. For surveys covering large spatial scales or when time is a limiting factor, number of false presences, and study costs can be reduced by employing a 2-stage survey protocol in which livetrapping is conducted only at sites where detection dog surveys indicate presence. We conclude a 2-stage strategy could be used effectively in large-scale surveys for a variety of rare and cryptic species.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalThe Journal of Wildlife Management
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Life Sciences
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

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