Effects of spool-and-line tracking on small desert mammals

Mary C. Steinwald, Bradley J. Swanson, Peter M. Waser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Spool-and-line tracking is an innovative and inexpensive way to record the movements of small mammals in a variety of habitats, and could have important applications for conservation related studies. However, the potential negative effects of the method have not been investigated. We document the effects of spool-and-line tracking on short-term change in body mass, recapture, and survival probability of banner-tailed kangaroo rats, Dipodomys spectabilis, in southeastern Arizona. We attached spools to D. spectabilis adults of both sexes during 3 y of varying environmental conditions, with total sample sizes of 90 experimental and 81 control animals. We did not attach spools to females in late pregnancy, and, to avoid entanglement, we did not attach spools to kangaroo rats located within 25 m of each other on the same night. We found no significant negative effects of spool attachment on body mass, survival, or recapture probability in either sex in any year.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-78
Number of pages8
JournalSouthwestern Naturalist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2006


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