, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 11-18

Evaluating the impact of non-lethal DNA sampling on two butterflies, Vanessa cardui and Satyrodes eurydice

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Abstract

Genetic sampling of endangered species can inform conservation management and potentially aid the long-term survival of a species. However, when dealing with very small populations of rare species, the sacrifice of whole animals may not be desirable or permitted. We set out to develop a demonstrably non-lethal method of obtaining DNA from the federally-endangered Mitchell’s satyr butterfly, Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii. Because of its endangered status we developed our methods on related species. In greenhouse and fields trials, we demonstrate that removal of small amounts of hind wing (2–3 mm2) has no significant impact on the behavior or survival of Vanessa cardui and Satyrodes eurydice. Based on these studies we were successful in obtaining a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to sample DNA from N. m. mitchellii populations. We suggest that our results can be extended to the sampling of other rare butterfly species.