Claudia Wultsch

Claudia is a hands-on sort of person. To that end, she currently works with a scat detector dog (formerly trained in sniffing out bombs, drugs, and assorted dangerous and illegal things).
The dog: Bruiser (code name: Weezie).
The not-as-yet illegal substance to sniff: Cat Shit.
The hands: Claudia's.

Together, Claudia and Bruiser tool across the Belizean landscape in search of cat scat. Any cat scat. Jaguar, Puma, Ocelot, Margay, Jaguarundi. They don't care; or, more to the point, they care too much. They'll sniff it all!

The goal is to collect and catalogue the residual DNA left in each scat. Epithelial cells from the intestines, we're told. Once the scat is firmly in-hand, the genetic analysis takes place. The results can reveal many things, such as species, sex, and the number of individuals present. That's because each DNA sample is unique, and provides a genetic “fingerprint” of each individual. Amazing!

What's more, by sampling all over Belize, Claudia can determine genetic variation in the various cats' movements and genetic connectivity between her far-flung sampling sites. This will help the crew understand how the animals range, and what natural or man-made barriers (mountains, rivers, roads, agricultural areas) impede the kitties' ranging. Because impediments could present survival issues.

Oh yes, there's more. Claudia will compare her genetic population size estimates to Miranda's camera trap population size estimates in an effort to determine which is more effective. Super awesome!

Here is a lovely slideshow she's created, showcasing her work in, that's right, a lovely manner.

Click right Here to experience.....The Power!

© tboy 2007