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

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Waddell, Emily ; Whitworth, Andrew ; MacLeod, Ross (2016)
  • Publisher: Herpetological Conservation and Biology

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