Border collies chase away beach contamination

May 19, 2014
A border collie patrols the beach as part of a study on reducing E. coli contamination. Credit: Elizabeth Alm

Border Collies are effective at reducing gull congregation on recreational beaches, resulting in lower E. coli abundance in the sand. Researchers from Central Michigan University reported the findings at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

Gull droppings may be one source of the indicator bacterium Escherichia coli to beach water, which can lead to swim advisories and beach closings. In addition, gull droppings may contain bacteria with the potential to cause human disease, according to Elizabeth Alm, one of the researchers on the study.

At the beginning of the summer, 200-meter sections of beach were arbitrarily assigned to be dog-treated beaches or control beaches. Half way through the summer, the beach sections were swapped, so that dogs were moved to the control beaches and the dog-treated beaches were then left to be untreated controls.

During the summers of 2012 and 2013, researchers recorded the number of gulls at each beach section. Once each week samples of and beach sand were collected and the numbers of E. coli in the samples counted. In early summer, samples from beaches where dogs had excluded gulls had significantly lower E. coli counts compared to control beaches.

"Border collies are intelligent dogs that love to work and could be used by managers as part of a comprehensive management strategy to reduce bacterial contamination at public beaches," said Alm.

Explore further: Human activity influences beach bacterial diversity

More information: This research was presented as part of the 2014 General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology held May 17-20, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Paps
not rated yet May 24, 2014
Borde Collies, is there anything they can't do? Just kidding, but they are super trainable and adaptable to a myriad of jobs. They are a great breed to own, but need to always be kept mentally and physically busy.

Learn More on Training Border Collies in my books - Paul Allen Pearce

~Paps