Improved genotyping and sequencing success rates for North American river otter (Lontra canadensis)
Genetic analysis of non-invasively collected fecal samples has become an important monitoring tool in wildlife management and population and conservation genetics. However, these samples are often difficult to obtain for bioindicator species such as river otters (Lontra canadensis). Moreover, DNA extraction and genotyping success rates have often been low in this species. In this technical note, alternate means of collecting fecal DNA samples at river otter latrine sites are described. Using a modified fecal swabbing protocol and a DNA lysis buffer solution, we were able to increase genotyping success rates to ≥ 69% at 9/11 loci. The increased success rate now renders this protocol a more cost-efficient and reliable method for generating population level data in this species.
KeywordsFecal DNA Lontra canadensis Microsatellites Mitochondrial DNA Monitoring Non-invasive River otter
We would like to thank Justin O’Reilly and Marina Kerr for the technical support. Domenico Santomauro, Chris Perra, and Emilie Brien (Great Bear Environmental Consulting Ltd.) provided assistance with field collections. We are extremely grateful to Reed Gauthier and E. Stephen Price, two Alberta trappers who provided access, guiding services, and logistical support for this program. We are thankful to Riverview Park and Zoo (Steve Thexton/ Sarah Law) as well as Carrie Sadowski and Dr. Jeff Bowman (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) for providing swabbed fecal samples from river otters for testing purposes.
Funding was provided by the Joint Oil Sands Monitoring program (JOSM), the Government of Alberta, and Environment and Climate Change Canada.
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