A first test of the thread bobbin tracking technique as a method for studying the ecology of herpetofauna in a tropical rainforest

Waddell, E., Whitworth, A. and MacLeod, R. (2016) A first test of the thread bobbin tracking technique as a method for studying the ecology of herpetofauna in a tropical rainforest. Herpetological Conservation and Biology, 11(1), pp. 61-71.

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Abstract

The lack of information about amphibians and reptiles in highly threatened tropical rainforest habitats has led to a need for innovative methods that can rapidly generate data on ecological behavior. The thread bobbin technique has proven successful for gathering ecological information in a range of habitats, but has not yet been used in tropical rainforests. Here we test the method for the first time in a humid tropical forest habitat on 14 herpetofaunal species. We found thread bobbins to be effective for large anurans (one leptodactylid and one bufonid), medium-large terrestrial snakes (one boid, three colubrids and one viperid), and testudines (one chelid), but largely unsuccessful for arboreal snakes (one boid and one colubrid), small and slender snakes (two colubrids), and small anurans (one strabomantid). We tracked 18 individuals for 1.2–15 d (mean 4.6 d) for distances of 5.5–469.3 m (mean 159.2 m). The thread trail revealed the exact movements of the tracked animal, providing detailed information on activity and microhabitat use that many alternative tracking methods cannot provide. Conservation projects rely heavily upon understanding the life history of species and without this prior knowledge, conservation efforts can fail, wasting funds and resources. We show that the thread bobbin method is a cost-effective technique that can be used to rapidly gather detailed ecological information on the life history of relatively unknown rainforest reptiles and amphibians.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:MacLeod, Dr Ross and Waddell, Miss Emily
Authors: Waddell, E., Whitworth, A., and MacLeod, R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Herpetological Conservation and Biology
Publisher:Herpetological Conservation and Biology
ISSN:1931-7603
ISSN (Online):1931-7603
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Emily Waddell
First Published:First published in Herpetological Conservation and Biology 11(1):61-71
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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