The application of nirs to determine animal physiological traits for wildlife management and conservation

Laura R. Morgan, Karen J. Marsh, Douglas R. Tolleson, Kara N. Youngentob

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The ability to measure and monitor wildlife populations is important for species management and conservation. The use of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to rapidly detect physiological traits from wildlife scat and other body materials could play an important role in the conservation of species. Previous research has demonstrated the potential for NIRS to detect diseases such as the novel COVID-19 from saliva, parasites from feces, and numerous other traits from animal skin, hair, and scat, such as cortisol metabolites, diet quality, sex, and reproductive status, that may be useful for population monitoring. Models developed from NIRS data use light reflected from a sample to relate the variation in the sample’s spectra to variation in a trait, which can then be used to predict that trait in unknown samples based on their spectra. The modelling process involves calibration, validation, and evaluation. Data sampling, pre-treatments, and the selection of training and testing datasets can impact model performance. We review the use of NIRS for measuring physiological traits in animals that may be useful for wildlife management and conservation and suggest future research to advance the application of NIRS for this purpose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3699
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Conservation
  • Diet
  • Disease
  • Health
  • Management
  • Near-infrared
  • Nutrition
  • Reproductive status
  • Spectroscopy
  • Wildlife

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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