European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 59, Issue 4, pp 609–612 | Cite as

Pros and cons of external swabbing of amphibians for genetic analyses

  • Antonia S. Müller
  • Patrick P. Lenhardt
  • Kathrin Theissinger
Technical Notes


Non-invasive DNA sampling is an important tool in amphibian conservation. Buccal swabs are nowadays replacing the wounding toe-clipping method. Skin and cloaca swabbing are even less invasive and easier to handle than buccal swabbing, but could result in contaminations of genetic material. Therefore, we test if external skin and cloaca swabs are as reliable as buccal swabs for genetic analysis of amphibians. We analysed eight microsatellite loci for the common frog (Rana temporaria, Linnaeus 1758) and compared genotyping results for buccal, skin and cloaca swabs regarding allelic dropouts and false alleles. Furthermore, we compared two DNA extraction methods regarding efficiency and cost. DNA quality and quantity (amplification success, genotyping error rate, in nanogram per microlitre) were comparable among DNA sources and extraction methods. However, skin and cloaca samples exhibited high degrees of contamination with foreign individuals, which was due to sample collection during mating season. Here, we established a simple low budget procedure to receive DNA of amphibians avoiding stressful buccal swabbing or harmful toe clipping. However, the possibility of contaminations of external swabs has to be considered.


Common frog DNA extraction Reliable genotypes Microsatellites DNA contamination 



Thanks to Jürgen Ott for help with organising the field work, to Maria Piscione and Stefan Müller for field assistance, and to Barbara Thronicke for support in the laboratory. This project was authorised by the “Struktur und Genehmigungsdirektion Süd” (ref. number 42/553-254).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonia S. Müller
    • 1
  • Patrick P. Lenhardt
    • 1
  • Kathrin Theissinger
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Environmental ScienceUniversity of Koblenz LandauLandauGermany

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