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Novel microsatellites and investigation of faecal DNA as a non-invasive population monitoring tool for the banded hare-wallaby (Lagostrophus fasciatus)

Cowen, S., Smith, M., McArthur, S., Rayner, K., Jackson, C., Anderson, G., Ottewell, K. and Deakin, J. (2022) Novel microsatellites and investigation of faecal DNA as a non-invasive population monitoring tool for the banded hare-wallaby (Lagostrophus fasciatus). Australian Journal of Zoology, 69 (2). pp. 55-66.

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Abstract

Monitoring programs for populations of small or medium-sized animals often use live-capture or photo-monitoring trapping methods to estimate population size. The banded hare-wallaby (Lagostrophus fasciatus), a small macropodiform marsupial, does not readily enter traps or have individually unique distinguishing physical features and is consequently difficult to monitor using these methods. Isolating DNA from faecal material to obtain individual genotypes is a promising monitoring technique and may present an alternative approach for this species. We developed novel species-specific microsatellite markers and undertook trials to assess faecal DNA degradation in ambient environmental conditions at two locations where this species has been translocated. The quality of DNA yielded from faecal pellets was evaluated through amplification failure and genotyping error rates of microsatellite markers. Error rates were compared for different treatments and exposure duration across multiple individuals. DNA was successfully obtained from all samples and error rates increased with exposure duration, peaking after 14–30 days depending on the site and treatment. The level of solar exposure was the most significant factor affecting degradation rate but both this and exposure duration had significant effects on amplification failure. Analysing DNA obtained from faecal pellets may represent a practical non-invasive method of deriving population estimates for this species and warrants further development.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Environmental and Conservation Sciences
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Copyright: © 2021 The Authors.
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/64373
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