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Olfaction-based Detection Distance: A Quantitative Analysis of How Far Away Dogs Recognize Tortoise Odor and Follow It to Source
Desert Research Institute, Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, 2215 Raggio Parkway, Reno, NV 89512, USA
Environmental Health and Safety, University of Nevada Reno MS 328, Reno, NV 89557, USA
Department of Geography, University of Nevada Reno MS 154, Reno, NV 89557, USA
Applegate School for Dogs, PO Box 5577, Walnut Creek, CA 94596, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 14 January 2008; Accepted: 27 March 2008 / Published: 28 March 2008
Abstract: The use of detector dogs has been demonstrated to be effective and safe for finding Mojave desert tortoises and provides certain advantages over humans in field surveys. Unlike humans who rely on visual cues for target identification, dogs use primarily olfactory cues and can therefore locate targets that are not visually obvious. One of the key benefits of surveying with dogs is their efficiency at covering ground and their ability to detect targets from long distances. Dogs may investigate potential targets using visual cues but confirm the presence of a target based on scent. Everything that emits odor does so via vapor-phase molecules and the components comprising a particular scent are carried primarily though bulk movement of the atmosphere. It is the ability to search for target odor and then go to its source that makes dogs ideal for rapid target recognition in the field setting. Using tortoises as targets, we quantified distances that dogs detected tortoise scent, followed it to source, and correctly identified tortoises as targets. Detection distance data were collected during experimental trials with advanced global positioning system (GPS) technology and then analyzed using geographic information system (GIS) modeling techniques. Detection distances ranged from 0.5 m to 62.8 m for tortoises on the surface. We did not observe bias with tortoise size, age class, sex or the degree to which tortoises were handled prior to being found by the dogs. The methodology we developed to quantify olfaction-based detection distance using dogs can be applied to other targets that dogs are trained to find.
Keywords: detection distance; olfaction; biosensor; dog; desert tortoise; probability of detection; Mojave Desert.
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Cablk, M.E.; Sagebiel, J.C.; Heaton, J.S.; Valentin, C. Olfaction-based Detection Distance: A Quantitative Analysis of How Far Away Dogs Recognize Tortoise Odor and Follow It to Source. Sensors 2008, 8, 2208-2222.
Cablk ME, Sagebiel JC, Heaton JS, Valentin C. Olfaction-based Detection Distance: A Quantitative Analysis of How Far Away Dogs Recognize Tortoise Odor and Follow It to Source. Sensors. 2008; 8(4):2208-2222.
Cablk, Mary E.; Sagebiel, John C.; Heaton, Jill S.; Valentin, Cindee. 2008. "Olfaction-based Detection Distance: A Quantitative Analysis of How Far Away Dogs Recognize Tortoise Odor and Follow It to Source." Sensors 8, no. 4: 2208-2222.