SoundCheck

DNA research transforms deer pellets into ‘libraries’

To researcher Todd Brinkman, the fecal pellet of a Sitka black-tailed deer is a "library" of information. (Todd Brinkman photo)

To researcher Todd Brinkman, the fecal pellet of a Sitka black-tailed deer is a “library” of information.


Listen to iFriendly audio.

Estimating wildlife populations in Southeast Alaska has always been a difficult problem for biologists. The Tongass Forest both sustains and conceals large numbers of Sitka black-tailed deer. For decades, scientists have relied on fecal pellet studies to gauge populations, but deer scat is not a fingerprint. There’s no way of accurately determining how many individual deer produce a given number of pellets – until now.

Dr. Todd Brinkman works at the Institute of Arctic Biology in Fairbanks.

Dr. Todd Brinkman works at the Institute of Arctic Biology in Fairbanks.

Todd Brinkman is a researcher with the Institute of Arctic Biology in Fairbanks. Jon Martin is an assistant professor of Biology at the University of Alaska Southeast. The two scientists make the case that DNA is revolutionizing the study of Sitka black-tailed deer.

Besides his ground-breaking DNA studies on deer populations, Brinkman is also interested in the relationship between deer, the environment, and people. He calls this relationship a “hunting system,” and believes it could play a larger role in forest management in the future.

Read an article by Todd Brinkman in Fairchase, his scientific writing on estimating deer populations, and his work on hunting systems.

Jon Martin, assistan professor of Biology at UAS Sitka, with an impressive black-tailed buck last December. (Jon Martin photo)

Jon Martin, assistan professor of Biology at UAS Sitka, with an impressive black-tailed buck last December. (Jon Martin photo)


 Subscribe in a reader

Comments

Please read our comment guidelines.

Recent News

Bear attack survivor: ‘Grace was extended to me’

The survivor of a brown bear mauling near Yakutat 10 days ago says the animal was startled, and attacked instinctively. Ken Steck is recovering from his wounds. He spoke recently with KCAW. more

Post-crisis, hospital works to pay back city

4880041665_bb70aca673_z
The financial picture at Sitka Community Hospital is like the tortoise: slow and steady, but determined. The city-owned hospital is still recovering from the discovery of a cash flow problem in 2014, but will begin paying down its $1 million debt to the city this coming fiscal year. more