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Development of microsatellite markers and a restriction endonuclease digest assay for non-invasive sampling of endangered White-rumped, Slender-billed and Red-headed vultures

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Southeast Asian vultures have been greatly reduced in range and population numbers, but it is challenging to use traditional tagging and monitoring techniques to track changes in their populations. Genotypes derived from non-invasively collected feather samples provide an alternative and effective means to ‘capture’ individual vultures for mark-recapture analyses. We describe a restriction endonuclease digest assay that distinguishes the visually similar feathers of three species of critically endangered Asian vultures (Gyps bengalensis, G. tenuirostris, and Sarcogyps calvus). In addition, we describe a panel of eight polymorphic microsatellite loci. In combination, the restriction endonuclease assay and microsatellite marker set developed here are powerful molecular tools for investigating the genetic and demographic status of these Asian vultures species.

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We thank the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) for access to vulture sites, to WCS, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Birmingham Zoo, and Department of Veterinary Pathology at Kasetsart University for blood and feather samples. This research was supported in part by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund, Riverbanks Zoo, American Museum of Natural History, American Ornithological Union, Eppley Foundation, and Cornell Lab of Ornitholo.

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Correspondence to Y. A. Kapetanakos.

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Kapetanakos, Y.A., Lovette, I.J. & Katzner, T.E. Development of microsatellite markers and a restriction endonuclease digest assay for non-invasive sampling of endangered White-rumped, Slender-billed and Red-headed vultures. Conservation Genet Resour 6, 539–542 (2014).

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