Wildlife Ethology & Canine Olfaction Lab

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The Wildlife Ethology and Canine Olfaction Lab at Dalhousie integrates knowledge and expertise from biology (behavioural and conservation biology) and experimental animal psychology (animal learning and animal psychophysics) to train dogs to find by scent target species-at-risk or their signs (e.g., hair, urine marks, faeces, etc.).

We are focussing on conservation applications for research on terrestrial reptiles (e.g., ribbon snakes, Blanding’s turtles, wood turtles), birds and (formerly) on wild canids such as coyotes.

For field work, we are focussing on two canine skills: Searching (air-scenting/trailing and tracking) and detection in difficult conditions (e.g., semi-aquatic environment and detection of subterranean odours). The lab is working on training methods, as well as methods of evaluating olfactory performance. We are interested in fundamental issues (perceptual and motivational processes, learning theory, physiology, etc.) that will contribute to perfect field applications and training.

Species investigated by our canine research assistants have included (from most recent to older projects):


Students: for the complete list, see: https://simon.gadbois.org/team.html

For further information, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Gadbois (sgadbois@dal.ca)