Wildlife Ethology & Conservation Canine Lab
The Wildlife Ethology and Conservation Canine 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):
- Non-invasive assessment of lead poisoning in owls (from regurgitation pellets).
- Wood turtles (Glyptemys insculpta): turtles and nests.
- Eastern coyotes (Canis latrans): all signs (urine marks, scats, etc.)
- Bird and bat fatalities at windfarm sites in Nova Scotia
- Northern ribbon snakes (Thamnophis sauritus septentrionalis): snakes and hibernacula
- Blanding’s turtles (Emydoidea blandingii): nests
- MFFP, Québec
- Parks Canada (Kejimkujik National Park, Cape Breton Highlands National Park)
- Environment Canada (HSP) via Acadia University
- Acadia University, Department of Biology: Drs Steve Mockford, Tom Herman
- MTRI: Mersey-Tobeatic Research Institute; Jeffie McNeill
- NS Power and Oxford Frozen Foods (land owners)
Students: for the complete list, see: https://simon.gadbois.org/team.html
- Robyn Delaney (Honours student): Ecotoxicology of lead poisoning in scavenging owl species.
- Laura Elliot (Independent Project, 2021–2022): Wildlife Conservation Canines comprehensive and critical review (with Meredith Flannery, below)
- Ella Macquisten (BSc Biology): Wood turtles in the Musquodoboit River watershed
- Megan Thompson (BSc Honours, Biology): 2014. Ribbon snakes in Kejimkujik National Park
- Kristen Sora (experiential course, Marine Biology). 2013
- Julia Delle Cave, Veterinary student intern, Toulouse, France, 2013. Ribbon snakes in Kejimkujik National Park
- David Adams (BSc Honours, Biology). 2013. Wood turtles in the Musquodoboit River watershed
- Liz Campbell (BSc Honours, Biology, independent project). 2012–2013. Ribbon snakes in Kejimkujik National Park
- Christine Riordan, BSc (Biology), BSc Honours (Psychology, 2009–2010). Ribbon snakes in Kejimkujik National Park
- Alisa Miller, (BSc Honours, Biology, 2009–2010)
- Delphine Mousse (graduate student, biology, Université Jean Monnet; research internship); Ribbon snakes in Kejimkujik National Park
- Michael Demontfaucon (graduate student, biology, Université de Paris XIII, 2009; research internship); Ribbon snakes in Kejimkujik National Park
- Meredith Flannery (MSc candidate, psychology, 2007–2008); PSYO 5001 project; Wildlife Conservation Canines: Historical account and current status
For further information, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Gadbois (firstname.lastname@example.org)