A DNA assay for rapid discrimination between beaver species as a tool for alien species management
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The confirmed presence of alien North American beavers in some regions of Eurasia may compete with and hinder the successful recolonisation of the native Eurasian species back to its former range. Distinguishing the two species in the field can be problematic, time consuming and expensive, thereby potentially limiting appropriate conservation actions. Here, a rapid and inexpensive genetic SNP assay is described that can separate the two species from either non-invasively collected samples or samples taken directly from restrained individuals. We applied these new genetic assays to free-living beavers of unknown origin sampled in Scotland.
KeywordsCastor fiber Castor canadensis Real-time PCR SNP Wildlife management Non-invasive sampling
We are grateful to Stefanie Venske (Nature Erlebnis Zentrum Wappenschmiiede, Germany) for providing samples as well as Casten Nowak, Robert Kraus (Conservation Genetics Group, Senckenberg, Germany), Helen Senn (WildGenes Laboratory, UK) for discussions, and continued support from Martin Gaywood, (Scottish Natural Heritage), Liz Haliwell, (Countryside Council for Wales) and the Scottish Beaver Trial. This work was funded by The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.
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