Development of 16 forensically informative microsatellite loci to detect the illegal trade of broad headed snakes (Hoplocephalus bungaroides)
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One of Australia’s most threatened elapid snake species, the broad-headed snake (Hoplocephalus bungaroides), is under threat from habitat loss and the illegal collection of individuals from the wild for the pet trade. To curb the illegal collection of individuals, the species recovery program recommended genetic typing of all individuals in captivity to validate alleged pedigrees. Using 454 sequencing, 16 novel microsatellite loci were developed for this purpose, and individuals held in captivity genotyped. All loci were polymorphic with a mean of 8 (±0.79) alleles per loci. These new forensically informative markers improve the power of available molecular markers to identify the illegal movement of this species, and provide a useful tool for conservation management of this species, not only in captivity but also the wild.
KeywordsSnake Elapid Microsatellite Forensic Illegal pet trade Conservation
The authors would like to thank the following people and institutions for the contribution of samples towards this project: Martin Shultz, Chad Staples, Lindell Andrews, Dion Gilbert, Michael Lynch, Zoos Victoria, Adelaide Zoo, Steve James of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Robert Johnson (South Penrith Veterinary Clinic), Michelle Bingley (North Richmond Veterinary Clinic), and Taronga Zoo. Funding for the project was provided by the Office of Environment and Heritage, BioPlatforms Australia and the Australian Museum Foundation. The authors would also like to thank, Andrew King and Prue Armstrong from the Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics for laboratory and technical support.
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