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    • ") for analysis, despite the relative abundance of DNA in feces, especially on the surface of those still fresh: for example feces from mountain lions (Puma concolor) were used to collect genetic information where the DNA comes from a few sloughed intestinal cells (Ernest, 2000). We believe that feces collection could represent an alternative and complementary (providing information on the diet) method to hair trapping as source of DNA for molecular genetic marker analysis, such as for the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus, Paolmares et al. 2002) and for other smallsized carnivores in Italy (for examples see Balestrieri et al. 2008; Lucentini et al. 2007; Vercillo et al. 2005). We also want to highlight the first documented presence of a domestic cat into our study area during five years of camera trapping: this indicates a crucial problem for the future long-term conservation of wildcat in Sicily and camera-trapping could be a valuable method to detect domestic cat presence inside areas typically inhabited by wildcats (Sarmento et al., 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: An hair trapping protocol, with camera trapping surveillance, was carried out on the south-western side of the Etna, inhabited by an abundant population of the European wildcat. We aimed to collect hair for genetic analysis on the base of a field study conducted in Switzerland, where valerian tincture had been used to attract wildcats to rub again wooden sticks and therefore leaving hairs. We placed 18 hair trapping stations, plus one camera trap per scented wooden stick, 1 km away from each other for 60 days (October 29 2010 to December 28 2010). The rate of "capture" success (1 capture / 24.5 trap-days) by camera trapping was substantially the same as those obtained during previous surveys performed in the same study area without the use of any attractants. No wildcats were photographed while rubbing against the wooden sticks, neither any wildcat was interested in the scent lure. We discuss limitations of the hair trapping, providing possible explanations on the failure of valerian tincture, while suggesting some field advices for future monitorings.
    Hystrix 07/2012; 23(2). DOI:10.4404/hystrix-23.2-4657 · 2.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We assessed the diet of pine marten (Martes martes) expanding in the heavily human-altered agricultural plain of the River Po, northern Italy. Between February 2008 and November 2009, surveys were carried out twice a week during seasonal sampling sessions of three to four consecutive weeks. To distinguish the faecal samples from those of sympatric carnivores, a polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism method was applied. The availability of small mammals was assessed by the analysis of 59 barn owl (Tyto alba) pellets. A total of 109 pine marten faeces were analysed. Its diet consisted of fruit, rodents, lagomorphs and birds. Seasonal variation occurred for fruit, which prevailed in summer, and rodents, which were more preyed upon in autumn. In winter, the diet of the pine marten was almost totally based on vertebrates, and lagomorphs were the main source of protein in summer. Use of small mammals differed significantly from their availability, voles, particularly bank vole Myodes glareolus, being preferred to mice (Apodemus sp.) and rats (Rattus sp.). Medium-size mammals formed about 18% of pine marten diet, a value generally reported for high-latitude habitats. In agricultural areas, the pine marten proved to be an opportunistic predator, able to face the reduced availability of small mammals by preying upon medium-size prey and fruit. © 2010 Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Bialowieza, Poland.
    Acta theriologica 07/2011; 56(3):199-207. DOI:10.1007/s13364-010-0015-8 · 1.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: On the Island of Ireland, pine martens (Martes martes) exist at the western edge of their global geographic range in the least forested region of Europe. The species has undergone substantial declines in abundance and distribution during the 20th century. Here, we report on the first cross-jurisdictional (Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland) survey that aimed to investigate current pine marten distribution, assess any recent historical change and provide preliminary estimates of population abundance.A standardised non-invasive survey technique that used scat-based transect surveys and DNA analysis to confirm scat identity was deployed in 258 10 km national grid squares during 2005–2007. In the Republic of Ireland, an occupancy rate of 59.6% was found. Comparisons with historical data indicated that a range expansion of pine marten had occurred over the last 30 years. Indicative core population range extended to over 50% of the land area with population abundance estimates of 2740 individuals.In Northern Ireland, an occupancy rate of 56.7% was determined with the population largely concentrated in western areas. There was little or no evidence of any recent expansion from core population areas (18% of land area) despite recent increases in forest cover and full legal protection. Population abundance estimates of 320 emphasise the critical requirement for action to conserve this species.The pine marten is one of the rarest wildlife species in Ireland and, based on our studies, an evidenced based conservation strategy that promotes a sustainable future for the species needs to be developed.
    Mammalian Biology - Zeitschrift fur Saugetierkunde 09/2012; 77(5):351–357. DOI:10.1016/j.mambio.2012.04.001 · 1.48 Impact Factor
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