A novel molecular method for noninvasive sex identification of order Carnivora


Noninvasive sampling can provide an efficient means of genetically monitoring mammals. Due to the fragmented quality of DNA derived from such samples, few methods span taxonomic groups beyond species. Here, we describe a more universal protocol for the molecular sex identification of order Carnivora. PCR amplification of a 176 bp segment of the SRY gene indicates a male, whereas no amplification indicates a female. A 245 bp segment of the ZFX gene serves as a positive control. This method is internally consistent, and multiple trials confer confidence in results. It applies to at least three families (Canidae, Felidae, and Phocidae) in both carnivore suborders (Feliformia and Caniformia), rendering this protocol the first sex identification method with amplicon sizes appropriate for noninvasive samples suitable for multiple families within order Carnivora.

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We would like to thank the Black Pine Animal Sanctuary (Albion, IN), Cedar Cove Feline Conservatory and Education Center (Louisburg, KS), International Exotic Animal Sanctuary (Boyd, TX), Long Island Aquarium (Riverhead, NY), Octagon Wildlife Sanctuary (Punta Gorda, FL), and Global Felid Genetics Program (New York, NY) for providing control samples. Funding was provided by the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics at the American Museum of Natural History and the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology at Columbia University.

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Correspondence to Alexandra DeCandia.

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DeCandia, A., Gaughran, S., Caragiulo, A. et al. A novel molecular method for noninvasive sex identification of order Carnivora. Conservation Genet Resour 8, 119–121 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12686-016-0525-z

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  • Noninvasive DNA sampling
  • Sex assignment
  • Carnivora
  • SRY
  • Canidae
  • Felidae