Investigations on the health status and causes of death of Eurasian common otter, Lutra lutra (L., 1758), in Germany
A pilot project was launched in the nature park "Nossentiner / Schwinzer Heide" (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania). The aim of this project is to yield new knowledge on individual habitat demands and population ecology of Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra) with a non-invasive method.
Intestinal cells from spraints of marking points were used to create a typical individual DNA profile for identification and sexing purposes. In addition, hormonal pregnancy and stress tests will follow. Otter carcasses from the same area were examined for selected diseases and parasites known to be indicative for a variety of ecological conditions. DNA profiles of dead otters were compared with those of known animals to investigate the influence of traffic accidents and fish traps on the mortality of otter populations. Informations about free-living specimens with regular occurrence are compared with data of dead found animals. The combination of all these results will not only increase the knowledge on habitat use, fitness parameters and causes of death but would also provide a deeper understanding of ecological requirements needed for the protection of these highly endangered animals.
During the first four months of our current study analysed 48 spraint samples from which we identified 32 individuals. Four animals were refound three times, 5 others twice. These results are useful to analyse time and spacial habitat use. According to the microsatellite data, marking points were frequented by up to nine individuals. Allelic pattern retrieved from dead found animals showed so far no match with already identified animals from the investigation area.
Stefanie Heidbrink: Anatomical and histological differences concerning the digestive-system of birds of prey with different feeding strategies.