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European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 59, Issue 1, pp 39–46 | Cite as

Hair trapping with valerian-treated lure sticks as a tool for genetic wildcat monitoring in low-density habitats

  • Katharina SteyerEmail author
  • Olaf Simon
  • Robert H. S. Kraus
  • Peter Haase
  • Carsten Nowak
Original Paper

Abstract

Wildcats are among the most elusive and least investigated carnivores in Central Europe. Here, we propose a hair-trapping method that allows reliable detection of wildcat presence even in low-density habitats. The trap is simple, consisting of a wooden stick with valerian as cat attractant. We performed non-invasive genetic wildcat monitoring in the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park, Germany, between 2007 and 2011. Our results provide the first evidence of wildcat presence in this region. Microsatellite analysis and mtDNA sequencing of hair samples furthermore confirm the existence of at least six individuals (males and females) in the study region. Four individuals were detected over two consecutive years, suggesting the resident status of wildcats in this area. Our results show that the lure stick method releases its full potential when combined with genetic analysis and is a sensitive tool which not only enables the detection of wildcat presence but also provides individual identification, even in recently colonised low-density areas.

Keywords

Non-invasive genetics Microsatellites Felis silvestris Wildlife monitoring Recolonisation Olfactory attractant 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Achim Frede and the team from the Nationalpark Kellerwald-Edersee and Karsten Wittern (Förderverein für den Nationalpark Kellerwald-Edersee e.V.). We are also grateful to numerous wildcat experts in Germany and Switzerland who helped to develop the methodology shown in this manuscript, including Thomas Mölich, Burkhard Vogel and Thomas Norgall (Bund für Umwelt- und Naturschutz Deutschland, BUND); Jürgen Thein, Karsten Hupe, Malte Götz, Martina Denk and Tabea Stoeckle. Parts of the applied molecular methods were originally developed by ECOGENICS, CH. Wildcat tissue samples were kindly provided by Mathias Herrmann, Matthias Krüger, Franz Müller, Uwe Müller and Jacques Pir. Technical assistance in the laboratory by Mascha Siemund and João Barateiro Diogo is gratefully acknowledged. We appreciate the work of Armin Bürgel, who was an encouraged supporter of this project. This study was funded by the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park. Additional funding comes from the BUND Hessen and the Landesoffensive zur Entwicklung wissenschaftlich-ökonomischer Exzellenz of the state of Hesse. RHSK was funded by grant SAW-2011-SGN-3 from the Leibniz Association.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katharina Steyer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Olaf Simon
    • 3
  • Robert H. S. Kraus
    • 1
  • Peter Haase
    • 2
    • 4
  • Carsten Nowak
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Conservation Genetics GroupSenckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum FrankfurtGelnhausenGermany
  2. 2.Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F)Frankfurt am MainGermany
  3. 3.Institut für Tierökologie und NaturbildungLaubachGermany
  4. 4.Department of River Ecology and ConservationSenckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum FrankfurtGelnhausenGermany

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