Comparing detection dog and livetrapping surveys for a cryptic rodent

Jennifer M. Duggan, Edward J. Heske, Robert L. Schooley, Aimee Hurt, Alice Whitelaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 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 languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1209-1217
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Wildlife Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Franklin's ground squirrel
  • Poliocitellus franklinii
  • cost comparison
  • detection dog
  • detection rate
  • occupancy model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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