Noninvasive wildlife monitoring methods, such as camera trapping, hair-snaring, and scat analyses, have become increasingly useful and less costly alternatives to more invasive techniques (e.g., radio-collaring or blood/tissue collection, Waits and Paetkau 2005). Scat deposited by an animal can be collected by researchers and transported with relative ease, which minimizes potential risks to the researcher and animal. Animal scat contains a significant amount of genetic information (Chaves et al. 2012), which can be used to identify species, individuals, gender, diet, and provide information regarding population dynamics (Chaves et al. 2010; Kitano et al. 2007).
Figure 1-Amplification of PCR product for 16s rRNA on 1% Agarose gel
Figure 2-Amplification of PCR product for ATP6 on 1% Agarose gel.
Figure 3-Aligned forward sequence and reverse sequence for the 16s rRNA gene
Figure 4-Aligned forward sequence and reverse sequence for the ATP6 gene
There are a wide variety of ways researchers can monitor wildlife. Some methods are more involved than others and require a certain amount of physical interaction with the animal (radio-collaring, blood collection…). These methods are considered invasive because they directly engage the researcher with the animal. This interaction can lead to unintended consequences by inducing unhealthy stress in the animal, which may lead to a condition known as capture myopathy. Monitoring techniques that enable the researcher to collect the same or very similar data whilst minimizing the risk to both the researcher and the animal are considered as favorable alternatives. Several techniques, known collectively as noninvasive monitoring techniques, such as camera trapping, hair-snaring, and scat analyses have become increasingly useful and less costly alternatives to more invasive techniques.
Scat analysis is a noninvasive technique used to facilitate wildlife monitoring efforts and has been gaining increased use given its relative efficiency, low cost, and increased accuracy. I examined the use of molecular techniques to distinguish among felid samples using mitochondrial DNA isolated from scat. Two mitochondrial genes (16s rRNA and ATP6) were found to be effective in discriminating among the scats of three Neotropical felids: jaguars (Panthera onca), pumas (Puma concolor), and ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) at the species-level. Base pair differences were identified in the 16s rRNA and ATP6 regions at multiple nucleotide loci for all three species. This study also sequenced the subunit 6 region of the ATP gene for ocelots, previously unsequenced on NCBI.
I would like to thank Catharina Grubaugh, Kate Reid, and Dr. Berish Rubin for their patience and guidance throughout the duration of this project. Dr. Anthony Caragiulo and Dr. George Amato of the American Museum of Natural History provided the scat samples used for this project. This project would not have been possible without their support and generosity. I would also like to thank Chelsea Butcher, Amanda Makkay, and my advisor Dr. Evon Hekkala.
All photo credits belong to Corey Anco
|This document was last modified 05/16/2014.|
This site is powered by the versatile Zope platform.
|This is a project of the Biology Department of Fordham University