Effectiveness of different types of hair traps for brown bear research and monitoring

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Non-invasive sampling by hair-trapping is increasingly used worldwide in wildlife research. Despite this rise and the potential of hair samples for ecology and conservation studies, the relative performance of hair collection devices has been rarely tested. Here, we compare the effectiveness of five types of hair traps for brown bears Ursus arctos in the Carpathian Mountains (SE Poland) and test the effects of trap type, season, number of days elapsed since trap installation and trap features on the trapping success in order to provide recommendations for optimal sampling in future studies. The trap types were corral, path-trap, “smola”(beechwood tar) tree-trap, turpentine tree-trap and natural rub. In 2010, we collected 858 hair samples during 2330 inspections of 175 hair traps and found that the most effective traps were smola tree-traps (mean percentage of successful inspections ± SD: 30.2% ± 26.0) and natural rubs (50.8% ± 16.7). Based on this finding, over the following 2 years we focused on 24 smola tree-traps and eight natural rubs. During this long-term survey (2010–2012, 969 inspections, 1322 samples collected) the trapping success increased with time and smola tree-traps achieved similar effectiveness to natural rubs (45.5% ± 29.7 and 45.9 ± 23.4, respectively). We show that when baiting smola tree-traps ten weeks prior to research or monitoring, sampling effectiveness can reach up to 30%. Taking into account the logistical and methodological constraints associated with detecting and using natural rubs for a proper survey design, we recommend using smola tree-traps baited in advance for hair sampling in wildlife studies.




Berezowska-Cnota, T., Luque-Márquez, I., Elguero-Claramunt, I., Bojarska, K., Okarma, H., & Selva, N. (2017). Effectiveness of different types of hair traps for brown bear research and monitoring. PLoS ONE, 12(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0186605

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