This data set contains information regarding carnivore scat surveys that were performed at sites in grama grassland and both creosote and mesquite shrubland habitats at the Sevilleta NWR. A total of nine surveys were carried out along road-based transects, each of which is a mile long, during one season in 2008 (June-July) and three seasons in 2009: spring (April-May), summer (July-August), and fall (October-November). There were 10 transects in grassland areas and 10 in shrubland areas in 2008. All 20 transects, as well as two additional transects in grassland areas, were surveyed in 2009. For more information on the structure of the vegetation surrounding these road based transects, see the "Vegetation surveys in grassland and shrubland sites that are associated with coyote scat surveys at the Sevilleta NWR, 2008-2009" data set. Scat samples were identified in the field and collected for genetic and stable carbon isotope analysis. Field recorded variables include: scat freshness, maximum diameter, length, and GPS coordinates, as well as the field-based species identification for the sample. Information on the lab based species and individual identification results are also presented.
This data was collected in order to obtain information on the size and feeding ecology of the coyote populations in grassland vs. shrubland habitats in three seasons (spring, summer and fall) and two years (2008 and 2009) at the Sevilleta NWR. A mark recapture analysis can be performed on the data from 2009 since two surveys were carried out for each scat transect in each of the three seasons and coyote scats were run through a genetic analysis to determine individual identity of the coyotes. A rough assessment of coyote habitat use can also be performed using the individual identity and coyote scat location information. Future isotope analysis will indicate whether the base of the food chain is C4 (grass) vs. C3 (shrubs) plants in grassland vs. shrubland habitats in each of the three seasons (spring (pre-monsoon), summer (monsoon) and fall (post monsoon)) and in each of two years (2008 and 2009).
Experimental Design: Carnivore scat surveys were carried out along roads located in grassland and shrubland habitats throughout the Sevilleta NWR. Surveys were done along 20 road based transects in 2008 and 22 transects in 2009. 10 transects were located in grassland areas and 10 in shrubland areas in 2008; there were 12 transects in grassland areas and 10 in shrubland areas in 2009.
Sampling Design: Each scat transect was 1 mile long and was separated from all other transects by at least 1 mile to ensure independence of scat samples collected on different transects. Each transect surveyed in 2008 (n=20) was surveyed a total of three times between June 24th and July 24th, 2008. Each transect surveyed in 2009 (n=22) was surveyed a total of six times between April 13th and November 6th, 2009. For 2009, two surveys were carried out in each of three seasons: spring (April-May 2009); summer (July-August 2009); and fall (October-November 2009).
Field methods: The beginning and end points of each scat transect were marked at the beginning of the summer field season in 2008, and then re-marked as necessary at the beginning of the spring field season 2009, with a wooden stake and a pin flag so that each of the three surveys in 2008 and six surveys in 2009 were carried out along the same road segments. The end points of three transects (D,E, and R) were moved slightly from their original locations in summer, 2008 and two transects were added (U and V) in 2009. The coordinates of all of these new locations were determined via GPS and recorded. Before the first scat survey in 2008, and before the first scat survey in each season in 2009, all transects were cleared of all visible carnivore scat. During each of the three subsequent surveys in 2008, and during the two subsequent surveys in each season in 2009, each complete carnivore scat sample encountered was measured and collected. A sample was considered to be incomplete if it were clearly torn or very small and likely missing part of the sample. When clearing transects and conducting surveys, the transects were driven in a field vehicle (truck) at 5-10mph and the driver looked through both the windshield and front windows for scat samples. In 2008, there was a second observer who would sit in the passenger seat and look through the windshield and front windows. When a particular item could not be identified from within the truck, the observer would get out of the vehicle and investigate the item further. When a carnivore scat sample was encountered, a photograph was taken and the GPS coordinates for the location of the scat were recorded. If the scat was composed of multiple pieces that were spread out along the road, then an attempt was made to record the GPS coordinates of a point midway between the two pieces that were furthest apart. If the scat was not flattened or otherwise degraded, two measurements of maximum diameter and one measurement of length were recorded. When a scat contained multiple pieces, these measurements were generally taken on the longest piece. If part of the scat was flattened, then measurements were taken on the longest, unflattened piece. Maximum diameter was measured using calipers and length was measured using a clear, plastic ruler. Once the measurements were taken, small pieces of the scat were removed using flame sterilized tweezers and placed in a 2mL plastic tube containing DET buffer. The buffer preserved the samples for future genetic analysis. The remainder of the sample was then collected in a ziplock bag for future drying and carbon isotope analysis.
All scat samples were dried for 24 hours at 70 degrees Celsius and, in future, will be prepared and run through a stable carbon isotope analysis in a coupled element analyzer and mass spectrometer. Small subsamples of each scat will be run through a mitochondrial DNA species test. All samples identified as coyotes in this test will then be run through a microsatellite analysis, with 8 loci, to identify individuals.
Data were recorded in the field and entered into a spreadsheet in Excel. Field recorded comments were removed since they did not add significantly to the value of the data and, in some cases, their importance or meaning would have been difficult to explain. No automated or quantitative data quality checks were performed.
Additional Information on the personnel associated with the Data Collection / Data Processing Other field crew members:Jon Erz and Teresa Seamster