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Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 653–668 | Cite as

Applying DNA barcoding to conservation practice: a case study of endangered birds and large mammals in China

  • Jing Li
  • Yaoyao Cui
  • Juan Jiang
  • Jianqiu Yu
  • Lili Niu
  • Jiabo Deng
  • Fujun Shen
  • Liang Zhang
  • Bisong YueEmail author
  • Jing LiEmail author
Original Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Biodiversity protection and reserves

Abstract

Owning to advantages over traditional species identification methods, DNA barcoding is suggested to be a promising tool in conservation research. However, the use of DNA barcoding to accurately identify unknown samples in conservation practices has not been well documented in the literature. To illustrate this issue, we implemented a survey of endangered birds and mammals in China based on mitochondrial Cytochrome c Oxidase subunit I (COI) gene. We included mostly confiscated specimens and non-invasive samples while concealing species information to simulate real-world scenarios of identification. In total, 47 avian and 39 mammalian specimen were re-identified by sequential analyses of online species assignment, genetic distances, phylogenetic reconstruction, and diagnostic nucleotide method. With this multiple analyses approach, 82 individuals were accurately assigned to the species level and four individuals to the genus level. 78.72% of the avian specimen and 87.18% of mammalian specimen identifications were consistent with morphological classification. Among those inconsistent with morphological classification, we identified several potential errors including misidentification based on morphology and mislabelling that may have occurred while combining results from different analytical methods. Our case study not only enriches the barcode database, but also reports a successful application of DNA barcoding identification to conservation practices, which could effectively facilitate species identification of unknown samples in conservation practices in the future.

Keywords

DNA barcoding Cytochrome c Oxidase subunit I (COI) Species identification Conservation practice Birds Mammals 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Foundation (Grant No. CPF2014-13-1) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31270431) for funding. We thank Janine Antalffy for English improvement. Thanks also to the anonymous reviewers and the Editor for their helpful comments on an early version of the paper.

Compliance with ethical standard

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10531_2016_1263_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.4 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 1439 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Bio-Resources and Eco-Environment (Ministry of Education), College of Life SciencesSichuan UniversityChengduChina
  2. 2.Chengdu ZooInstitute of Chengdu WildlifeChengduChina
  3. 3.Sichuan Key Laboratory for Conservation Biology on Endangered WildlifeChengdu Research Base of Giant Panda BreedingChengduChina

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