Improving the Accuracy of DNA-Based Methods for Estimating Population Parameters of Vertebrate Pests

The use of DNA derived from non-invasively collected material such as shed hair and faeces is increasingly used to identify individuals for applications in wildlife studies. The development of highly variable microsatellite markers and advance in forensic DNA methods provide many exciting opportunities for measuring a range of population parameters in free-ranging animals. While it is now possible to generate significant amounts of data from these non-invasive sources of DNA, the biggest challenge in the application of DNA-based information is overcoming the errors inherent in non-invasive samples. Errors arise where the information is overcoming the errors inherent in non-invasive samples. Errors arise where the poor quality and limited quantity of DNA derived from field-collected material leads to heterozygotes being scored as homozygotes. If these error rates go undetected and the genotypes are directly transferred into mark-recapture models, the result will be significant over-estimates of population census size. Therefore it is essential that any study using such data determine the inherent error rate (mismatch probability), and build this into population census models. Unless such errors are corrected, DNA-based information will not provide cost-effective applications in wildlife studies.

Author Gleeson, D. M., Howitt, R. and Morgan, D.
Date 2005-05-02
Year 2005
Secondary title 13th Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference
Place published Wellington, NZ
Publisher Landcare Research
Pages 89-90
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