Dogs and DNA on the Trail of Endangered Lizards

My collaborators and I have just published new research where we use scat detecting dogs (WD4C), combined with novel genetic analyses, to identify and locate endangered lizards in the San Joaquin Desert.

Genetic analyses of scat is a form of noninvasive sampling, which allows the study of elusive, rare or dangerous animals without the need for direct contact.

While such methods are commonly used for mammals, they have never been successfully applied in reptiles. Beyond the uses for the endangered lizard in question (the blunt-nosed leopard lizard), we hope this research will serve as proof of concept for other reptile species.

This work is published in the Journal of Wildlife Management

Deb Woollett and Orbee on the trail of lizards. Photo: Mike Westphal