USE OF FOOTPRINT IDENTIFICATION TECHNIQUE (FIT) TO DEVELOP A NOVEL TOOL FOR SPECIES AND SEX DISCRIMINATION OF FISHER TRACKS
|Jody M Tucker; U.S. Forest Service; email@example.com; Sky Alibhai, Remi Murdoch, Ryan Lekivetz, Caleb King
Footprint identification technique (FIT) is an emerging non-invasive tool in wildlife conservation that has been adapted for a wide variety of species. FIT enables classification of footprints using a geometric profile generated through computer software with a simple graphical user interface. Here we report the development of novel application of footprint identification technique (FIT) for species discrimination for fisher (Pekania pennanti) and marten (Martes caurina), and sex-ID for fisher. We developed FIT using footprint images collected from free-ranging animals at track plate stations that were identified to individual and sex via genotyping of non-invasive genetic samples. We developed a reference dataset of 165 marten tracks and 267 fisher tracks (27 females, 34 males). Geometric profiles for each track were extracted using a specialized FIT add-in developed for fisher in JMP data visualization software. We used a linear discriminant analysis to analyze these geometric profiles and create discriminant functions for species and sex ID. Classification accuracy for both species and sex ID was >90%. FIT provides a promising new tool for fisher research and monitoring by providing a simple and cost-effective method for non-invasive species or sex identification.