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Ecology: Using Tracks And Signs To Determine Presence Of Mammal Species

1083 words - 5 pages

Writing a short article (maximum 1000 words) on the problems and complexities of using tracks and signs to determine presence (and absence) of mammal species (25%)

In the field of ecology finding and identifying tracks and signs has always been one of the hardest job in that field. This is because a range of different problems can and most likely will occur.

There are several ways to find animal tracking and signs. When looking for a particular species research will need to be conducted to know what habitats it will be spending most of its time at, this will narrow done the list of species when a footprint or sign has been found. But right there is are first problem when someone says we ...view middle of the document...

Other ways can be placing “moon stone” which is mentioned above; another way is to set up an ink pad. (Binstead, 2013)
An ink pad is a collective of materials consisting of cardboard, paper and ink which is animal friendly (ink that won’t cause health issue to the animal.) The idea behind this is to allow the animal to walk through the ink and walk onto the paper leaving behind a footprint that can be collect and studied later.

As with most techniques in the field there can be flaws. When it comes to moon sand its main flaw is that it cannot produce a print for small mammals such as weasels and stoats being as they are too light in weight. Being sand it is also near impossible to make a clay or bronze mould from the paw print meaning only photographs to be taken to be used later for studying.

Ink pads main flaws are to do with the animal’s paws its self. The idea for the ink pad is to get the animal to walk over the over and create paw prints. The flaw is that there is nothing to stop the animal from re-walking on the paper; this will cause an overlap of paw prints making it extremely hard to identify the species. Another that an occur is if the animal has claws, the animal can use these to shred the paper destroying all previous paw prints.

The problem with these three methods is that by not seeing the animal itself you can’t determine 100% what that animal might be as two paw print might look alike but might be to different species one being a fully grown and the other being a juvenile. (Harris, 2014) Another problem is that you might not see the paw prints from a certain mammals but this doesn’t mean they are not in the area, they have avoid the ink pads, the moon sand and by human error someone may have not spotted their own paw prints on the ground.
The final problems with these methods are that you can’t determine an accurate time of when the animal made the...

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