DNA research transforms deer pellets into ‘libraries’
Have a news tip? Click here to submit your tip.
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.
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)
Subscribe in a reader
A species of fern common in Asia has been found in Southeast Alaska. But unlike invasive species, Wright’s filmy fern is an early colonizer. And figuring out how and when it got here is the next piece of the puzzle. more
Rob Harcourt is a professor of Marine Ecology at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. He's in Sitka as a Scientist in Residency Fellow (SIRF) at the Sitka Sound Science Center. Harcourt uses advanced tagging techniques to study ocean animals and their habitat -- everything from jellyfish to blue whales. He'll be speaking tonight (6PM Wed Apr 22, Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center, free) on climate change and penquins: "Will Happy Feet feel the heat?" With SSS research director Tory O'Connell.
Downloadable audio. more