Noninvasive sampling methods provide a means for studying species such as large mammalian carnivores that are difficult to survey using traditional techniques. Focusing on bobcat (Lynx rufus), we compared the effectiveness of noninvasive hair and scat genetic sampling in terms of field sample collection, species identification, and individual identification. We describe a novel hair-snare design and sampling protocol that successfully sampled 4 sympatric carnivore species, bobcat, mountain lion (Felis concolor), coyote (Canis latrans), and gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), in 3 habitat blocks in coastal southern California, USA. Scat surveys were also successful at sampling bobcats and other carnivores in the area. Hair and scat sampling methods had similar species identification success (81% and 87%, respectively) using mitochondrial DNA amplification and restriction enzyme digestion patterns. Therefore, for studies focused on the distribution and activity of a suite of carnivore species, we recommend a combination of noninvasive methodologies, for example, targeting hair and scat surveys toward species and sites where they are most effective. Because of a higher success rate for scat (85%) than for hair samples (10%) when using 4 microsatellite loci and a multiple-tubes approach to verify individual genotypes, we suggest scat sampling is a better choice for studies that require individual identification of bobcats.
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Vol. 71 • No. 5