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Title: The dispersion and detection patterns of mtDNA-assigned red fox 'Vulpes vulpes' scats in Tasmania are anomalous
Contributor(s): Marks, Clive A (author); Obendorf, David (author); Pereira, Filipe (author); Edwards, Ivo (author); Hall, Graham  (author)
Publication Date: 2014
Open Access: Yes
DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12278Open Access Link
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Abstract: 1. Models used for resource allocation in eradication programmes must be based on replicated data of known quality and have proven predictive accuracy, or they may provide a false indication of species presence and/or distribution. In the absence of data corroborating the presence of extant foxes 'Vulpes vulpes' in Tasmania, a habitat-specific model based upon mtDNA data (Sarre et al. 2012. Journal Applied Ecology, 50, 459-468) implied that foxes were widespread. Overall, 61 of 9940 (0·6%) surveyed scats were assigned as mtDNA fox positive by the fox eradication programme (FEP). 2. We investigated the spatiotemporal distribution of the 61 mtDNA-assigned fox scats and modelled the probability of replicating scat detection in independent surveys using detection dogs based upon empirically derived probabilities of scat detection success obtained by the FEP using imported fox scats. 3. In a prior mainland study, fox genotypes were recurrently detected in a consecutive fourday pool of scats. In Tasmania, only three contemporaneously collected scat pairs of unknown genotype were detected by the FEP within an area corresponding to a conservatively large mainland fox home range (639 ha) in a decade. Nearest neighbour pairs were widely spaced (mean = 7·0 km; circular area = 153 km²) and generated after a mean of 281 days. 4. The majority of assigned mtDNA positive scats were found in urban and peri-urban environments corresponding to small mainland fox home ranges (30-45 ha) that imply higher scat density and more certain replication. Using the lowest empirically determined scat detection success for dogs, the failure to replicate fox scat detection on 34 of 36 occasions in a large (639 ha) home range is highly improbable (P = 0·00001) and suggestive of Type I error. 5. Synthesis and applications. Type I error, which may have various sources, should be considered when scat mtDNA data are few, accumulated over many years, uncorroborated by observations of extant specimens, inadequately replicated in independent surveys within an expected spatiotemporal scale and reported in geographically isolated environments unlikely to have been colonized.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Journal of Applied Ecology, 51(4), p. 1033-1040
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Place of Publication: United Kingdom
ISSN: 1365-2664
Field of Research (FOR): 060801 Animal Behaviour
050103 Invasive Species Ecology
060201 Behavioural Ecology
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales
960404 Control of Animal Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species in Forest and Woodlands Environments
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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School of Environmental and Rural Science

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