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TaqMan assays for species identification of the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) and the grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)


We have developed TaqMan based assays for species-specific identification of two species of squirrel found in the British Isles, the native red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) and the introduced north American grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis). These assays correctly identified tissue and hair samples of both species and there was no cross-species amplification. This is a useful method for non-invasive surveys to help conserve the red squirrel and manage the spread of the grey squirrel in the UK and Ireland.

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The authors would like to thank contributors of samples: Mark Ferryman, Juliet Robinson, Richard Wales, Ruth Carden, Colin Lawton, Catherine Waters, Paddy Sleeman, Huw Denman, Pat Whelan, Daniel Buckley, Jacinta Mullins, Siobhan Moran, David O’Neill, Eugene Burke, Ger O’Brien, Ann Fitzpatrick, Fintan Malone and anonymous senders. We would also like to thank property owners for access to their lands: Seán and Síle Murphy, Rosemary Higby and Mount Congreve Estate. This work was funded under the Embark Strand 1 initiative. We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Denise B. O’Meara.

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O’Meara, D.B., Turner, P.D., Coffey, L. et al. TaqMan assays for species identification of the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) and the grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis). Conservation Genet Resour 4, 603–604 (2012).

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  • Real-time PCR
  • Non-invasive
  • Hair-tubes
  • Mitochondrial DNA