Ecology: Using Tracks and Signs to Determine Presence of Mammal Species

Ecology: Using Tracks and Signs to Determine Presence of Mammal Species

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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 will be tracking animals today you think “great I’m going to find some animal footprints” which is easier said than done.

Footprints can be extremely hard to find especially if you are looking a mammal species that spends it life hiding from predators or even predators hiding from prey waiting to ambush. Their footprint will be affected by a number of things such as:
• The type of soil it’s on: This will effect on how well of a print can be made. There are several ways to catch this out, scientists can place a surface down called “Moon Sand” which is used to gather large mammal prints, and this however will not allow prints of smaller mammals. (Binstead, 2013)
• The weather: The weather can depend on how long a footprint will last. Such as if it been warm and sunny a footprint may last the day or not even affect the ground if the ground is dry. But if it is raining the footprint will become damaged and will be near impossible to tell what animal it is
• The type of Mammal: The type of animal is a major factor if a footprint is to be made. Lar...

... middle of paper ...

...ooking at colour is very important it can split to groups of mammal apart such as rabbits and deer’s who both produce pellet like faeces but both have different colours. (Trust, n.d.)
The benefits of looking at faeces are that if it hasn’t dried up and are still warm then the animal isn’t too far away giving a clear insight that the mammal is there but not knowing how long ago.
The disadvantage to this is that without experience and proper knowledge at what to look for leads to mistakes in animal identification.

Binstead, M., 2013. british wildlife centre. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed March 2014].
Harris, D. W., 2014. Class Notes. Swansea: s.n.
Trust, W., n.d. Poo ID sheet. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed March 2014].

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