Using black-footed cat scat for monitoring

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Friday, 5th April 2024

A method for noninvasive individual genotyping of black-footed cat (Felis nigripes)

Siziba, V.I., Scroeder, M.S., Wilson, B., Sliwa, A. & Willows-Munro, S.
Ecology and Evolution

Abstract

The black-footed cat (Felis nigripes) is endemic to the arid regions of southern Africa.
One of the world's smallest wild felids, the species occurs at low densities and is secretive
and elusive, which makes ecological studies difficult. Genetic data could provide
key information such as estimates on population size, sex ratios, and genetic
diversity. In this study, we test if microsatellite loci can be successfully amplified from
scat samples that could be noninvasively collected from the field. Using 21 blood and
scat samples collected from the same individuals, we statistically tested whether nine
microsatellites previously designed for use in domestic cats can be used to identify
individual black-footed cats. Genotypes recovered from blood and scat samples were
compared to assess loss of heterozygosity, allele dropout, and false alleles resulting
from DNA degradation or PCR inhibitors present in scat samples. The microsatellite
markers were also used to identify individuals from scats collected in the field
that were not linked to any blood samples. All nine microsatellites used in this study
were amplified successfully and were polymorphic. Microsatellite loci were found to
have sufficient discriminatory power to distinguish individuals and identify clones.
In conclusion, these molecular markers can be used to monitor populations of wild
black-footed cats noninvasively. The genetic data will be able to contribute important
information that may be used to guide future conservation initiatives.

Partially Funded By NLDTF

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