Highly reliable genetic identification of individual northern hairy-nosed wombats from single remotely collected hairs

A feasible censusing method

M. A. Sloane, P. Sunnucks, D. Alpers, L. B. Beheregaray, A. C. Taylor*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

99 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The highly endangered northern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii) is extremely difficult to study in the wild, and its numbers correspondingly difficult to estimate. Disturbance to the animals caused by trapping and radio-tracking may not only constitute an excessive risk to the population's viability, but may also yield biased data. The results of a pilot study are presented, which clearly show noninvasive genotyping to be a highly feasible and reliable alternative censusing method for L. krefftii. The protocol can identify individual wombats from single hairs collected remotely at burrow entrances, using: (i) a panel of microsatellite markers giving individual-specific genotypes; and (ii) a Y-linked sexing marker in combination with a single-copy X-linked amplification control. Using just the eight most variable microsatellites (of 20 available), only one in 200 pairs of full-sibs are predicted to share the same genotype. From 12 wombat hair samples collected on tape suspended over burrow entrances, three known female, two known male and an unknown wombat of each sex were identified. The approach will allow censusing of individuals that evade capture, and will also reveal some otherwise problematic aspects of the behaviour of this elusive animal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1233-1240
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Ecology
Volume9
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2000

Keywords

  • Conservation
  • Hair follicles
  • Microsatellite
  • Noninvasive sampling
  • Population censusing
  • Y-linked sexing

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