River Otters

River Otters as Biomonitors

A new study found that river otters in Illinois are being exposed to dieldrin, DDE (a byproduct of DDT), PCBs and other chemicals banned decades ago. Photo by Ivan Petrov

River Otters Activity (Videos)

Figure 1. Grid system used to reference river otter scat location during scat surveys from 1 August 2011 to 31 August 2012, Illinois, USA. Given the variation in scat, different research teams may define “one scat” differently than another: (A) Multiple pieces of scat that likely represent one bowel evacuation. (B) One piece of scat that likely represents one bowel evacuation. (C) Portable grid system used to reference scat location. Arrow indicates new scat. See methods (Rivera et al., 2018). ©Wildlife Veterinary Epidemiology Laboratory – Illinois Natural History Survey


Rivera NA, Totoni S, Monick K., Tian T, Green ML, Novakofski J, Mateus-Pinilla NE. 2018. A comparison of three methods to evaluate otter latrine activity. Wildlife Society Bulletin. Accepted December 2018. [PDF]

Green ML, Monick K, Manjerovic MB, Novakofski J, Mateus-Pinilla NE. 2015. Communication stations: cameras reveal river otter (Lontra canadensis) behavior and activity patterns at latrines. Journal of Ethology, 33 (3): 225-234 [PDF]

Satterthwaite-Phillips D, Mateus-Pinilla NE, Novakofski J. 2014. Fatty acid analysis as a tool to infer the diet in Illinois River otters (Lontra canadensis). Journal of Animal Science and Technology 56 (1): 1-9 [PDF]

Carpenter SK, Mateus-Pinilla NE, Singh K, Lehner A, Satterthwaite-Phillips D, Bluett RD, Rivera NA, Novakofski JE. 2014. River otters as biomonitors for organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, and PBDEs in Illinois. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 100, 99-104 [PDF]