Saturday, May 02, 2015

Research v. Research

The more we read these 'research' papers, some good, many weak and now some repeat performances, the more we understand that on many occasions, a conclusion is reached ahead of any work. And thus a paper can be quoted to fit almost any conclusion.

Take radio collars attached to badgers and to cattle sharing the same pastures. Work was done on this in GB in 2009. We reported it in this posting - [link] The conclusion of that paper was that contact was much more frequent than was thought.

The results showed that a single badger (V59) had recordable contacts with 5 of the 13 cattle. Inter-group contact between the two badger social groups was recorded, mainly in September.
Six proximity data loggers (two badger loggers and four cattle loggers) recorded 103 and 32 inter-species interactions respectively (Tables 3 & 4). Overall, two Valley badgers and five cattle were implicated in inter-specific contacts, with the two badgers contacting all of the five cattle. All five cattle were in the top eight for CI rankings in cattle, with four out of the five amongst the top five.
So just two badgers recorded 103 inter species interactions? (Inter species = contact with cattle) and the authors reckon Defra should test the cattle more regularly? Amazing conclusions.

But now a different set of collars were attached to some Northern Irish cattle and badgers - [link] with somewhat different results.Or maybe the parameters were set differently.
Researcher Dr O'Mahoney enthused: “Proximity collars are a new and exciting technology, which allow a hitherto unprecedented level of data to be obtained on interactions between animals.
Not really 'new'. It's been done before, but we digress. The study found no direct contacts and concluded:

This study occurred in one area of Northern Ireland over a relatively short period of time, so whilst direct interactions between cattle and badgers were not recorded, that does not necessarily mean that interactions never occur.

However, it does support the increasing evidence that such contact is likely to be at a very low level, but still may be important if infected animals are involved.

Nothing like stating the blindingly obvious, is there?

 However,  New Zealand came to a totally different conclusion, using sedated possums and a video camera [ [link]

 And they recorded the interaction on a video of how cattle react to a sedated possum - [link]

They nuzzle it, lick it, smell it and roll it around.

And if that possum happened to be a half dead badger???????????????????

What happens if a group of these..

..comes in contact with one of these?

As a cattle farmer, you live in fear of your next TB test, that's what.

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