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Germany: Protecting wolves in Lower Saxony (Germany) through citizen science monitoring

Goal: Protecting wolves in Lower Saxony (Germany) through citizen science monitoring

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Matthias Hammer
added 3 research items
Biosphere Expeditions in collaboration with the State Wolf Bureau (Wolfsbüro) in Lower Saxony, Germany, conducted an active wolf (Canis lupus lupus) monitoring project from 17 June to 21 July 2017. Four weekly groups of up to twelve citizen scientists per group as well as staff, local wolf commissioners and, on occasion, trained wolf scat detection dogs focused on finding wolf sign exclusively on public paths. The study area covered various priority areas in Lower Saxony as advised by the State Wolf Bureau and wolf commissioners. Twenty-five 10x10 km grid cells of the EEA grid system and 1,133 km were surveyed on foot or by bicycle. All grid cells were surveyed multiple times so that they were covered 52 times. 76 wolf scat samples were collected. 33 yielded material for DNA analysis and 75 provided material for dietary analysis. Thirty-two tracks, a variety of fur remains and five wolf kill carcasses were also found, but did not pass quality assessment procedures. Twenty-two (29%) of the 76 scat samples collected were classified as C1 pieces of hard evidence on the SCALP classification system, 19 (24%) as C2 confirmed observation and 30 (40%) as C3 unconfirmed observations. Five (7%) did not originate from a wolf. One direct sighting was also recorded as a C1 piece of hard evidence. Dietary analysis is ongoing and should be published in the next report. Two individual female and four male wolves, as well as the presence of a new wolf pack in the Walle area, were confirmed by DNA analyses of samples collected by the expedition and others. Results also identified two areas of high wolf activity: one each in the districts of Celle and Luchow-Dannenberg. The quantity and quality of samples collected by the active monitoring effort of the expedition is remarkable, boosting annual official wolf sign records by over a third in quantity and producing a quality ratio of 53% of C1 and C2 records (the quality ratio of the official monitoring programme, which is a passive programme, is 40%). All this shows that with a two days of training, contributions of citizen scientists towards wolf research and conservation can be both high quality and high quantity. 49 citizen scientists took part in the expedition, 42 from Germany or its immediate neighbour states (86%) with four of them (8%) from Lower Saxony, three from North America (6%), two from Australia (4%), as well as one person each from India (2%) and Singapore (2%). The expedition also achieved significant media coverage involving 28 articles, TV and radio programmes, predominantly in the German-speaking countries of Germany and Austria (89%) and one each (3.6%) in the Netherlands, UK and India. All articles and radio programmes created by journalists who attended the expedition were positive. Three negative articles appeared in local newspapers written by journalists who had not been on the expedition and who interviewed staff on the telephone only. Negative coverage and voices in the media, the latter mainly from hunting and landowner sources, were based on falsities, misinterpretations and erroneous assumptions that are comprehensively refuted in this report. Hunters and landowners also made unsuccessful attempts to sabotage and discredit the project and it is clear that the return of the wolf is a highly emotional and politically charged subject in Germany. The way in which the issue is discussed bears no relation to the perceived or actual harm wolves can do to humans or livestock, bearing in mind the small number of wolves resident in Germany (60 packs at the last count). Positive aspects of and opportunities connected to the wolf’s return are almost entirely absent from the discussion, which appears to be dominated by a vocal anti-wolf minority that does not reflect the welcoming stance of the large (79%) majority of Germans. The wolf has returned to Germany to stay. It is an adaptable generalist and a highly protected species. Calls for regional or large-scale culls are therefore unrealistic, unwarranted and not goal-oriented. The key to successful human/wolf co-existence instead lies in supporting those who are exposed to genuine risks by wolf presence. Since wolves almost never represent a threat to humans, including children, this means supporting livestock owners and listening to their experiences and concerns. Livestock protection and wolf management measures in areas frequented by wolves are of paramount importance and must be applied consistently and effectively, preferably on a federal, rather than state level. Opportunities arising from the return of the wolf are being largely ignored. We argue that there are many, currently untapped, areas of opportunity especially in nature-based, sustainable tourism. The expedition covered in this report serves as a showcase for this and demonstrates how (citizen) science, domestic and international visitors, wolf research & conservation, local NGOs and providers of touristic services can all benefit.
Results 2017 (dietary analysis pending): Over four weeks 49 citizen scientists took part (42 from Germany or its immediate neighbour states (86%), four of them (8%) from Lower Saxony, three from North America (6%), two from Australia (4%), as well as one person each from India (2%) and Singapore (2%). Twenty-five 10x10 km grid cells of the EEA grid system and 1,133 km were surveyed on foot or by bicycle. All grid cells were surveyed multiple times (n = 52). 76 wolf scat samples were collected. 33 yielded material for DNA analysis and 75 provided material for dietary analysis. Twenty-two (29%) of the 76 scat samples collected were classified as C1 pieces of hard evidence on the SCALP classification system, 19 (24%) as C2 confirmed observation and 30 (40%) as C3 unconfirmed observations. Five (7%) did not originate from a wolf. One direct sighting was also recorded as a C1 piece of hard evidence. Results of DNA analysis:-six individuals confirmed: two female and four male wolves-presence of a new wolf pack confirmed-two areas of high wolf activity identified Thirty-two tracks, a variety of fur remains and five wolf kill carcasses were also found, but did not pass quality assessment procedures. 2018 (preliminary results, DNA and dietary analysis pending): Over two weeks 23 citizen scientists took part (15 from Germany or its immediate neighbour states (65%), two of them (8%) from Lower Saxony, three from North America (13%), three from UK (13%), as well as one person each from Australia and Iceland (4%). Fifteen 10x10 km grid cells of the EEA grid system and 638 km were surveyed on foot and 100 km by bicycle. All grid cells were surveyed multiple times (n=29). 200 wolf scat samples were collected. 25 yielded material for DNA analysis and all of them provided material for dietary analysis. Another 50 scats were very old and therefore not sampled. Seven tracks were found, but did not pass quality assessment procedures. One direct sighting was also recorded as a C1 piece of hard evidence. Conclusions The quantity and quality of samples collected by the active monitoring effort of citizen scientists is remarkable, boosting annual official wolf sign records by over a third in quantity and producing a quality ratio of 53% of C1 and C2 records (the quality ratio of the passive official monitoring programme is around 40%). This shows that with two days of training, contributions of citizen scientists towards wolf research and conservation can be high in quality as well as quantity. The project serves as a show-case of how international citizen scientists can make a significant contribution to regional wildlife conservation efforts.
This report details wolf (Canis lupus lupus) active monitoring fieldwork by Biosphere Expeditions in collaboration with the State Wolf Bureau of the German state of Lower Saxony and local wolf commissioners. Field work was conducted from 23 June to 6 July 2018 in two one-week long groups comprising twelve citizen scientists. The aim of the expedition was to collect samples for DNA and dietary analyses. This was done by sending small groups into the field to search for scat samples. 24 citizen scientists took part in the expedition, 16 from Germany or its immediate neighbour states (67%) with two of them (8%) from Lower Saxony, three people each from North America and the United Kingdom (12.5%), as well as one person each from Iceland and Australia (4%). Before commencement of field work, which was exclusively conducted on public paths and bridleways, citizen scientists were trained for 1.5 days in sample detection, sampling and data collection techniques. The study area covered various priority areas in Lower Saxony as advised or requested by the State Wolf Bureau, wolf commissioners and the State Forestry Authority. Fifteen 10x10 km grid cells of the EEA grid system and almost 750 km were surveyed on foot or by bicycle. All grid cells were surveyed multiple times so that they were covered 29 times. 250 wolf scat samples were collected, 218 of which were included into the official wolf monitoring programme. 200 samples were frozen for dietary analysis and 25 of those were fresh enough for DNA analysis. Thirty-two tracks, a variety of fur remains and five suspected wolf kill carcasses were also found, but did not pass quality assessment procedures. Eleven (5%) of the 218 scat samples collected were classified as C1 pieces of hard evidence on the SCALP classification system, 69 (32%) as C2 confirmed observation and 137 (63%) as C3 unconfirmed observations. One scat (1%) did not originate from a wolf. One direct sighting was also recorded as a C3 piece of unconfirmed evidence. Dietary analysis is ongoing and should be published in the next report. DNA analysis of the 25 samples showed that 12 scats originated from wolf and one from fox. Three wolves could be identified as female and six as male. Two of the males were new to the monitoring programme. The DNA analysis also yielded the first genetic proof of the existence of the Wietze wolf pack. In addition, two areas of high wolf activity (in the districts of Lüchow- Dannenberg and Celle/Hannover) could be identified. Scat samples collected for dietary analysis by the 2017 expedition have now been analysed. The 45 samples of C1, C2 or C3 classification yielded 30% roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), 29% wild boar (Sus scrofa), 18% red deer (Cervus elaphus), 8% fallow deer (Dama dama), 8% deer-like animal and 7% hare-like animal (Lagomorpha). When only biomass is considered, there are no significant changes; similar proportions of prey species were obtained from the 21 C1 samples only . An important and noteworthy aspect is the complete lack of livestock in the samples. This corroborates other studies that have shown that livestock comprises only a small proportion of a wolf’s diet. Just like the 2017 expedition, the quantity and quality of samples collected by the active monitoring effort of the 2018 expedition is remarkable. Official (passive) monitoring efforts in 2016/17 yielded 215 scat samples; in 2017/18 the number was roughly the same. This means that this two-week long citizen science, active expedition with 218 collected samples doubled the number of scats available from the official wolf monitoring efforts. The expedition also produced a quality ratio of 37% of C1 and C2 records, which is roughly the same as the 40% quality ratio of the official (passive) monitoring programme outside the expedition. All of this shows that with 1.5 days of training, contributions of citizen scientists towards wolf research and conservation can be both high quality and high quantity.
Charlotte Steinberg
added a research item
ABSTRACT This report details wolf Canis lupus lupus active monitoring fieldwork by Biosphere Expeditions in collaboration with the State Wolf Bureau of the German state of Lower Saxony and local wolf commissioners. Field work was conducted from 6 to 19 July 2019 in two one-week long groups, each comprising twelve citizen scientists. The aim of the expedition was to collect samples for DNA and dietary analyses. This was done by sending small groups into the field to search for scat samples. 24 citizen scientists took part in the expedition, 18 from Germany or its immediate neighbour states (75%), three people from the United Kingdom (12.5%), two from North America (8.4%) and one person from China (4.1%). Before commencement of field work, which was exclusively conducted on public paths and bridleways, citizen scientists were trained for 1.5 days in sample detection, sampling and data collection techniques. The study area covered various priority areas in Lower Saxony as advised or requested by the State Wolf Bureau, wolf commissioners, hunters and the State Forestry Authority. Twenty-eight 10 km x10 km grid cells of the European Environment Agency (EEA) reference grid system and almost 750 km were surveyed on foot. Some grid cells were surveyed multiple times so that they were covered a total of 32 times. 241 wolf scat samples were identified during the field work, 157 of which were included into the official wolf monitoring programme. These 157 samples were frozen for dietary analysis and 28 of those were fresh enough for DNA analysis. A number of wolf tracks and possible wolf scats were also found, but did not pass quality assessment procedures directly after field work. Two teams actually saw wolves. The first sighting was two young wolves playing, and the other was an adult wolf on a forest trail only seen for a blink of an eye. Twenty-five (16%) of the 157 scat samples collected were classified as C1 pieces of hard evidence on the SCALP classification system, 32 (20%) as C2 confirmed observation and 100 (64%) as C3 unconfirmed observations. The two sightings were also recorded as a C3 piece of unconfirmed evidence. Dietary analysis is ongoing. The DNA analysis of 28 samples showed that 26 scats originated from wolf. 19 samples could be assigned to individual wolves. All in all, six male wolves and four female wolves were identified, of which two males and one female could be confirmed twice. Two other females could even be confirmed three times. For eight samples the species wolf, but no single individual, could be identified. Two male individuals were logged for the first time through the expedition. Just like the 2017 and 2018 expeditions, the quantity and quality of samples collected by the active monitoring effort of the 2019 expedition is remarkable. Official monitoring efforts in 2017/18 yielded 501 scat samples of which 218 (44%) samples came from the 2018 expedition. In 2019 this two-week long citizen science expedition with 156 collected scat samples contributed more than 20% of scats available from the official wolf monitoring efforts. The expedition also produced a quality percentage of 35% of C1 and C2 records, which is roughly the same as the 40% quality ratio of the official monitoring programme outside the expeditions. All of this shows again that with 1.5 days of training, contributions of citizen scientists towards wolf research and conservation can be both high quality and high quantity. ZUSAMMENFASSUNG Dieser Bericht beschreibt die Geländearbeit von Biosphere Expeditions im Rahmen eines aktiven Monitorings des großen Beutegreifers Wolf (Canis lupus lupus) in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Wolfsbüro des Landes Niedersachsen und einigen Wolfsberatern. Die Geländearbeit wurde vom 6. bis 19. Juli 2019 in zwei einwöchigen Gruppen mit je 12 Bürgerwissenschaftlern durchgeführt. Ziel war es, aufgeteilt in Kleingruppen, Wolfshinweise, insbesondere Losungen für DNA-Beprobung und Nahrungsanalysen, zu finden. An der Expedition nahmen 24 Bürgerwissenschaftler/innen teil, 18 davon kamen aus Deutschland oder seinen unmittelbaren Nachbarstaaten (75%), drei Personen aus Großbritannien (12,5%), zwei aus Nordamerika (8,4%) und eine Person aus China (4,1%). Vor Beginn der Geländearbeit, ausschließlich auf öffentlich begehbaren Wegen, wurden die Teilnehmer/innen 1,5 Tage im Erkennen von Wolfshinweisen, Probenahme und Datenerfassung im Gelände geschult. Das Untersuchungsgebiet umfasste verschiedene Gebiete in Niedersachsen, deren Auswahl in Zusammenarbeit mit dem staatlichen Wolfsbüro, örtlichen Wolfsberatern und Jägern sowie den Niedersächsichen Landesforsten geschah. Achtundzwanzig der 10 km x 10 km großen Rasterzellen des des EU-Gitternetzes und fast 750 km wurden zu Fuß abgesucht. Einige Gitterzellen wurden mehrfach begangen, so dass sie insgesamt 32 Mal abgedeckt wurden. Im Rahmen der Expedition konnten insgesamt 241 Wolfslosungen im Gelände identifiziert werden, von denen 157 Proben in das offizielle Wolfsmonitoring aufgenommen wurden. Diese 157 Proben wurden für Nahrungsanalyse eingefroren, 28 Proben davon waren geeignet für genetische Untersuchungen. Eine Reihe von Spuren und möglichen Wolfslosungen wurden ebenfalls gefunden, konnten aber aufgrund der strengen Datenqualitätsvorgaben nicht als Wolfshinweise genutzt werden. Zwei Teams sahen tatsächliche Wölfe. Bei der ersten Sichtung handelte es sich um zwei junge Wölfe, die spielten, und die der zweiten war ein erwachsener Wolf auf einem Waldweg nur für einen Augenblick sichtbar. Fünfundzwanzig (16%) der 157 gesammelten Losungsproben wurden im SCALP-Klassifizierungsverfahren als C1-Nachweis eingestuft, 32 (20%) als C2-bestätigte Hinweise und 100 (64%) als C3-unbestätigte Hinweise. Die beiden Sichtungen wurden als C3-unbestätigter Hinweis aufgenommen. Die Nahrungsanalyse der gesammelten Proben ist noch nicht abgeschlossen. Die genetischen Untersuchungen der 28 eingesendeten Proben ergab, dass 26 Losungen von Wölfen stammten. 19 dieser Proben konnten einzelnen Wölfen zugeordnet werden. Insgesamt wurden sechs männliche und vier weibliche Wölfe identifiziert, von denen zwei männliche und eine weibliche zweimal bestätigt werden konnten. Zwei weitere Fähen konnten sogar dreimal bestätigt werden. Für acht Proben konnte die Art Wolf, aber kein einzelnes Individuum identifiziert werden. Zwei Rüden konnten zum allerersten Mal im Rahmen dieser Expedition überhaupt identifiziert werden. Wie bereits im Rahmen der Expeditionen 2017 und 2018 ist die Anzahl und die Qualität der gesammelten Losungsproben, die durch dieses aktive Wolfsmonitoring der Expedition 2019 gesammelt wurden, bemerkenswert. Die offiziellen Monitoringbemühungen 2017/18 in Niedersachsen ergaben insgesamt 501 Losungsproben, von denen 218 (44%) Proben von unserer Expedition 2018 stammten. Im Jahr 2019 trug dieses zweiwöchige Bürgerwissenschaftlerprojekt mit 157 gesammelten Proben mehr als 20% zu den Loungsproben des offiziellen Monitorings bei. Die Geländearbeit trug einen Anteil von 35% der C1- und C2-Hinweisen bei, was ungefähr dem 40% Anteil des offiziellen Monitorings außerhalb der Expeditionen entspricht. All dies belegt wiederholt, dass Bürgerwissenschaftler mit eineinhalb Tagen Schulung einen quantitativ und qualitativ hochwertigen Beitrag zum Wolfsmonitoring leisten können.
Matthias Hammer
added 4 research items
After an absence of more than 150 years, the Eurasian wolf (Canis lupus lupus) started to colonise Germany and reached the federal state of Lower Saxony in 2006. This ‘Central European Lowland Population’ of Canis lupus lupus is: - classified by IUCN as Endangered since 2012(Kaczensky et al. 2013) - protected by European law through theFauna Flora Habitat (FFH) Directive and German law (Federal Nature Conservation Act) - defined as isolated, as there is no unrestrictedreproductive exchange with other populationsThe objective, as per the FFH Directive, is to achieve and maintain a ‘Favourable Conservation Status’ (FCS) for this wolf population. We argue that for this active wolf monitoring is required.However, in Lower Saxony the official wolf monitoring methodology is conducted in a passive way only (sign is not actively searched for, but only reported as it is found by hunters, wolf commissioners and others as and when they have time to report findings) follow-ing SCALP criteria.Citizen science NGO Biosphere Expeditions, the state wolf bureau and a number of wolf commissioners started an active monitoring programme (where by sign is actively searched for over a concentrated time period). This programme involved international citi-zen scientists and data gathered were added to the existing wolf monitoring database. Field work conducted (one group up to 12 citizen sci-entists for one week): 2017: 4 groups of 1 week each in June/July, total of 49 citizen scientists2018: 2 groups of 1 week each in June/July, total of 23 citizen scientistsMonitoring area in Lo
ABSTRACT This report details wolf Canis lupus lupus active monitoring fieldwork by Biosphere Expeditions in collaboration with the State Wolf Bureau of the German state of Lower Saxony and local wolf commissioners. Field work was conducted from 6 to 19 July 2019 in two one-week long groups, each comprising twelve citizen scientists. The aim of the expedition was to collect samples for DNA and dietary analyses. This was done by sending small groups into the field to search for scat samples. 24 citizen scientists took part in the expedition, 18 from Germany or its immediate neighbour states (75%), three people from the United Kingdom (12.5%), two from North America (8.4%) and one person from China (4.1%). Before commencement of field work, which was exclusively conducted on public paths and bridleways, citizen scientists were trained for 1.5 days in sample detection, sampling and data collection techniques. The study area covered various priority areas in Lower Saxony as advised or requested by the State Wolf Bureau, wolf commissioners, hunters and the State Forestry Authority. Twenty-eight 10 km x10 km grid cells of the European Environment Agency (EEA) reference grid system and almost 750 km were surveyed on foot. Some grid cells were surveyed multiple times so that they were covered a total of 32 times. 241 wolf scat samples were identified during the field work, 157 of which were included into the official wolf monitoring programme. These 157 samples were frozen for dietary analysis and 28 of those were fresh enough for DNA analysis. A number of wolf tracks and possible wolf scats were also found, but did not pass quality assessment procedures directly after field work. Two teams actually saw wolves. The first sighting was two young wolves playing, and the other was an adult wolf on a forest trail only seen for a blink of an eye. Twenty-five (16%) of the 157 scat samples collected were classified as C1 pieces of hard evidence on the SCALP classification system, 32 (20%) as C2 confirmed observation and 100 (64%) as C3 unconfirmed observations. The two sightings were also recorded as a C3 piece of unconfirmed evidence. Dietary analysis is ongoing. The DNA analysis of 28 samples showed that 26 scats originated from wolf. 19 samples could be assigned to individual wolves. All in all, six male wolves and four female wolves were identified, of which two males and one female could be confirmed twice. Two other females could even be confirmed three times. For eight samples the species wolf, but no single individual, could be identified. Two male individuals were logged for the first time through the expedition. Just like the 2017 and 2018 expeditions, the quantity and quality of samples collected by the active monitoring effort of the 2019 expedition is remarkable. Official monitoring efforts in 2017/18 yielded 501 scat samples of which 218 (44%) samples came from the 2018 expedition. In 2019 this two-week long citizen science expedition with 156 collected scat samples contributed more than 20% of scats available from the official wolf monitoring efforts. The expedition also produced a quality percentage of 35% of C1 and C2 records, which is roughly the same as the 40% quality ratio of the official monitoring programme outside the expeditions. All of this shows again that with 1.5 days of training, contributions of citizen scientists towards wolf research and conservation can be both high quality and high quantity. ZUSAMMENFASSUNG Dieser Bericht beschreibt die Geländearbeit von Biosphere Expeditions im Rahmen eines aktiven Monitorings des großen Beutegreifers Wolf (Canis lupus lupus) in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Wolfsbüro des Landes Niedersachsen und einigen Wolfsberatern. Die Geländearbeit wurde vom 6. bis 19. Juli 2019 in zwei einwöchigen Gruppen mit je 12 Bürgerwissenschaftlern durchgeführt. Ziel war es, aufgeteilt in Kleingruppen, Wolfshinweise, insbesondere Losungen für DNA-Beprobung und Nahrungsanalysen, zu finden. An der Expedition nahmen 24 Bürgerwissenschaftler/innen teil, 18 davon kamen aus Deutschland oder seinen unmittelbaren Nachbarstaaten (75%), drei Personen aus Großbritannien (12,5%), zwei aus Nordamerika (8,4%) und eine Person aus China (4,1%). Vor Beginn der Geländearbeit, ausschließlich auf öffentlich begehbaren Wegen, wurden die Teilnehmer/innen 1,5 Tage im Erkennen von Wolfshinweisen, Probenahme und Datenerfassung im Gelände geschult. Das Untersuchungsgebiet umfasste verschiedene Gebiete in Niedersachsen, deren Auswahl in Zusammenarbeit mit dem staatlichen Wolfsbüro, örtlichen Wolfsberatern und Jägern sowie den Niedersächsichen Landesforsten geschah. Achtundzwanzig der 10 km x 10 km großen Rasterzellen des des EU-Gitternetzes und fast 750 km wurden zu Fuß abgesucht. Einige Gitterzellen wurden mehrfach begangen, so dass sie insgesamt 32 Mal abgedeckt wurden. Im Rahmen der Expedition konnten insgesamt 241 Wolfslosungen im Gelände identifiziert werden, von denen 157 Proben in das offizielle Wolfsmonitoring aufgenommen wurden. Diese 157 Proben wurden für Nahrungsanalyse eingefroren, 28 Proben davon waren geeignet für genetische Untersuchungen. Eine Reihe von Spuren und möglichen Wolfslosungen wurden ebenfalls gefunden, konnten aber aufgrund der strengen Datenqualitätsvorgaben nicht als Wolfshinweise genutzt werden. Zwei Teams sahen tatsächliche Wölfe. Bei der ersten Sichtung handelte es sich um zwei junge Wölfe, die spielten, und die der zweiten war ein erwachsener Wolf auf einem Waldweg nur für einen Augenblick sichtbar. Fünfundzwanzig (16%) der 157 gesammelten Losungsproben wurden im SCALP-Klassifizierungsverfahren als C1-Nachweis eingestuft, 32 (20%) als C2-bestätigte Hinweise und 100 (64%) als C3-unbestätigte Hinweise. Die beiden Sichtungen wurden als C3-unbestätigter Hinweis aufgenommen. Die Nahrungsanalyse der gesammelten Proben ist noch nicht abgeschlossen. Die genetischen Untersuchungen der 28 eingesendeten Proben ergab, dass 26 Losungen von Wölfen stammten. 19 dieser Proben konnten einzelnen Wölfen zugeordnet werden. Insgesamt wurden sechs männliche und vier weibliche Wölfe identifiziert, von denen zwei männliche und eine weibliche zweimal bestätigt werden konnten. Zwei weitere Fähen konnten sogar dreimal bestätigt werden. Für acht Proben konnte die Art Wolf, aber kein einzelnes Individuum identifiziert werden. Zwei Rüden konnten zum allerersten Mal im Rahmen dieser Expedition überhaupt identifiziert werden. Wie bereits im Rahmen der Expeditionen 2017 und 2018 ist die Anzahl und die Qualität der gesammelten Losungsproben, die durch dieses aktive Wolfsmonitoring der Expedition 2019 gesammelt wurden, bemerkenswert. Die offiziellen Monitoringbemühungen 2017/18 in Niedersachsen ergaben insgesamt 501 Losungsproben, von denen 218 (44%) Proben von unserer Expedition 2018 stammten. Im Jahr 2019 trug dieses zweiwöchige Bürgerwissenschaftlerprojekt mit 157 gesammelten Proben mehr als 20% zu den Loungsproben des offiziellen Monitorings bei. Die Geländearbeit trug einen Anteil von 35% der C1- und C2-Hinweisen bei, was ungefähr dem 40% Anteil des offiziellen Monitorings außerhalb der Expeditionen entspricht. All dies belegt wiederholt, dass Bürgerwissenschaftler mit eineinhalb Tagen Schulung einen quantitativ und qualitativ hochwertigen Beitrag zum Wolfsmonitoring leisten können.
ABSTRACT This report details wolf (Canis lupus lupus) active monitoring fieldwork by Biosphere Expeditions in collaboration with the State Wolf Bureau of the German state of Lower Saxony and local wolf commissioners. Field work was conducted from 23 June to 6 July 2018 in two one-week long groups comprising twelve citizen scientists. The aim of the expedition was to collect samples for DNA and dietary analyses. This was done by sending small groups into the field to search for scat samples. 24 citizen scientists took part in the expedition, 16 from Germany or its immediate neighbour states (67%) with two of them (8%) from Lower Saxony, three people each from North America and the United Kingdom (12.5%), as well as one person each from Iceland and Australia (4%). Before commencement of field work, which was exclusively conducted on public paths and bridleways, citizen scientists were trained for 1.5 days in sample detection, sampling and data collection techniques. The study area covered various priority areas in Lower Saxony as advised or requested by the State Wolf Bureau, wolf commissioners and the State Forestry Authority. Fifteen 10x10 km grid cells of the EEA grid system and almost 750 km were surveyed on foot or by bicycle. All grid cells were surveyed multiple times so that they were covered 29 times. 250 wolf scat samples were collected, 218 of which were included into the official wolf monitoring programme. 200 samples were frozen for dietary analysis and 25 of those were fresh enough for DNA analysis. Thirty-two tracks, a variety of fur remains and five suspected wolf kill carcasses were also found, but did not pass quality assessment procedures. Eleven (5%) of the 218 scat samples collected were classified as C1 pieces of hard evidence on the SCALP classification system, 69 (32%) as C2 confirmed observation and 137 (63%) as C3 unconfirmed observations. One scat (1%) did not originate from a wolf. One direct sighting was also recorded as a C3 piece of unconfirmed evidence. Dietary analysis is ongoing and should be published in the next report. DNA analysis of the 25 samples showed that 12 scats originated from wolf and one from fox. Three wolves could be identified as female and six as male. Two of the males were new to the monitoring programme. The DNA analysis also yielded the first genetic proof of the existence of the Wietze wolf pack. In addition, two areas of high wolf activity (in the districts of Lüchow-Dannenberg and Celle/Hannover) could be identified. Scat samples collected for dietary analysis by the 2017 expedition have now been analysed. The 45 samples of C1, C2 or C3 classification yielded 30% roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), 29% wild boar (Sus scrofa), 18% red deer (Cervus elaphus), 8% fallow deer (Dama dama), 8% deer-like animal and 7% hare-like animal (Lagomorpha). When only biomass is considered, there are no significant changes; similar proportions of prey species were obtained from the 21 C1 samples only . An important and noteworthy aspect is the complete lack of livestock in the samples. This corroborates other studies that have shown that livestock comprises only a small proportion of a wolf’s diet. Just like the 2017 expedition, the quantity and quality of samples collected by the active monitoring effort of the 2018 expedition is remarkable. Official (passive) monitoring efforts in 2016/17 yielded 215 scat samples; in 2017/18 the number was roughly the same. This means that this two-week long citizen science, active expedition with 218 collected samples doubled the number of scats available from the official wolf monitoring efforts. The expedition also produced a quality ratio of 37% of C1 and C2 records, which is roughly the same as the 40% quality ratio of the official (passive) monitoring programme outside the expedition. All of this shows that with 1.5 days of training, contributions of citizen scientists towards wolf research and conservation can be both high quality and high quantity. ZUSAMMENFASSUNG Dieser Bericht beschreibt die Feldarbeit von Biosphere Expeditions im Rahmen eines aktiven Monitorings des großen Beutegreifers Wolf (Canis lupus lupus) in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Wolfsbüro des Landes Niedersachsen und einigen Wolfsberatern. Die Feldarbeit wurde vom 23. Juni bis 6. Juli 2018 in zwei einwöchigen Gruppen von max. 12 Bürgerwissenschaftlern durchgeführt. Ziel war es, aufgeteilt in Kleingruppen, Wolfshinweise, insbesondere Losungen für DNA-Beprobung und Nahrungsanalysen zu finden. Von den 24 internationalen Expeditionsteilnehmern kamen 16 Personen aus Deutschland oder seinen unmittelbaren Nachbarstaaten (67%), inklusive zwei Personen aus Niedersachsen (8%), jeweils drei Personen aus Nordamerika und Großbritannien (12,5%) sowie je eine Person aus Island und Australien (4%). Vor Beginn der Geländebegehungen, ausschließlich auf öffentlich begehbaren Wegen, wurde eine eineinhalbtägige Schulung der Expeditionsteilnehmer durchgeführt. Das Untersuchungsgebiet umfasste verschiedene Schwerpunktgebiete in Niedersachsen, die vom staatlichen Wolfsbüro, Wolfsberatern vor Ort sowie den Niedersächsischen Landesforsten empfohlen bzw. angefragt wurden. Fünfzehn der 10x10 km großen Zellen des EU-Gitternetzes und fast 750 km wurden zu Fuß oder mit dem Fahrrad untersucht. Alle Rasterzellen wurden mehrfach besucht, so dass sie insgesamt 29 Mal abgedeckt wurden. Die Expedition identifizierte insgesamt 250 Wolfslosungen im Gelände, 218 davon wurden in das offizielle Wolfsmonitoring aufgenommen. 200 der Losungsproben wurden zur Nahrungsanalyse tiefgefroren und an das Labor der Tierärztlichen Hochschule Hannover und die Landesjägerschaft Niedersachsen übergeben. 25 dieser Losungsproben waren frisch genug für DNA-Analysen. Die übrigen 32 Losungsproben sowie Spuren und Fellreste konnten aufgrund der strengen Datenqualitätsvorgaben nicht als Wolfshinweise genutzt werden. Elf (5%) der 218 gesammelten Losungsproben wurden als C1 (eindeutiger Nachweis) nach dem SCALP-Verfahren bewertet, 69 (32%) als C2 (bestätigter Hinweis) und 137 (63%) als C3 (unbestätigter Hinweis). Eine (<1%) der Losungen stammte nicht von einem Wolf. Zusätzlich wurde noch eine direkte Sichtung als ein C3 (unbestätigter Hinweis) aufgenommen. Durch die Analyse der 25 DNA-fähigen Losungen konnten insgesamt 12 Proben Wölfen zugeordnet werden, eine stammte von einem Fuchs. Es konnten drei Fähen und sechs Rüden identifiziert werden, zwei davon bisher nicht nachgewiesene, also unbekannte Rüden. Unter anderem konnte die Expedition den ersten genetischen Nachweis für das Rudel Wietze erbringen. Außerdem konnten zwei Gebiete mit hoher Wolfsaktivität identifiziert werden: eines im Landkreis Lüchow-Dannenberg und eines in der Region Celle/Hannover. Die Nahrungsanalyse der Losungsproben, die im Jahr 2017 im Rahmen der ersten Expedition gesammelt wurden, ist nun abgeschlossen. 45 Proben, die mit C1, C2 oder C3a bewertet wurden, enthielten 30% Reh (Capreolus capreolus), 29% Wildschwein (Sus scrofa), 18% Rothirsch (Cervus elaphus), 8% Damhirsch (Dama dama), 8% Rehartige und 7% Hasenartige (Lagomorpha). Betrachtet man die Biomasse, verschieben sich die Anteile geringfügig; werden ausschließlich die 21 als C1 bewerteten Losungsproben betrachtet, gibt es leichte, aber keine signifikanten Verschiebungen. Ein wichtiger Aspekt ist das Fehlen jeglicher Nutztiere in den untersuchten Proben. Dies bestätigt die generell geringen Anteile an Nutztieren in der Wolfsnahrung. Ebenso wie bei der Expedition 2017 ist die Quantität, als auch die Qualität der Losungsproben, die im Rahmen der Expedition 2018 gesammelt wurden, beachtlich. Im Rahmen des offiziellen (passiven) Wolfmonitorings wurden im Jahr 2016/17 insgesamt 215 Losungsproben erfasst, im Jahr 2017/18 etwa dieselbe Anzahl. Das bedeutet, dass die zweiwöchige aktive Bürgerwissenschaftler-Monitoring-Expedition mit 218 protokollierten Losungsproben die Gesamtmenge an Losungsproben und somit wertvoller Daten für das offiziellen Wolfsmonitoring verdoppelt hat. Mit 37% C1- und C2-Bewertungen ist deren Qualität bemerkenswert hoch und vergleichbar mit den 40% des passiven offiziellen Monitorings außerhalb der Expedition. All dies belegt, dass Bürgerwissenschaftler mit eineinhalb Tagen Schulung einen quantitativ und qualitativ hochwertigen Beitrag zum Wolfsmonitoring leisten können.
Matthias Hammer
added a project goal
Protecting wolves in Lower Saxony (Germany) through citizen science monitoring