Noninvasive alternatives for DNA collection from threatened rodents

Michelle L Green, Tih-fen Ting, Mary Beth Manjerovic, Nohra Mateus-pinilla, Jan Novakofski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many rodent species are currently under conservation threat. However, population monitoring and status assessment are extremely challenging because of small body size, low abundance and elusive behavior of rodents. Furthermore, invasive methods of capture and tissue collection commonly used to address such studies can induce an unacceptable amount of stress to sensitive species. As a result, noninvasive techniques have become more widely used, but relatively few studies have applied noninvasive techniques to rodents. Here we present two noninvasive alternatives for the collection of DNA from Franklin’s ground squirrels (Poliocitellus franklinii). We compared the quantity, purity and degradation of DNA extracted from plucked hair and fecal pellets to tail snip tissues. We recovered more DNA from tail snips than either plucked hair or fecal pellets. Both hair and fecal pellets recovered DNA with purity ratios similar to tail snips. As expected, DNA recovered from fecal pellets exhibited a high degree of degradation compared to hair and tail tissues. Careful planning of field and laboratory protocols is therefore necessary to compensate for challenges associated with noninvasive tissue types. While there is no tissue that can universally be applied to all research projects, both hair and feces are viable alternatives to traditional invasive procedures and can be applied to threatened and endangered rodent species.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-26
Number of pages9
JournalNatural Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2013


  • Fecal
  • Hair
  • Noninvasive
  • Rodent
  • Threatened
  • fecal
  • hair
  • noninvasive
  • rodent


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