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Optimization of protocols for DNA extraction from fecal samples

High-throughput sequencing offers new possibilities in molecular ecology and conservation studies. However, its potential has not yet become fully exploited for noninvasive studies of free–ranging animals, such as those based on feces. High–throughput sequencing allows sequencing of short DNA fragments and could allow simultaneous genotyping of a very large number of samples and markers at a low cost. The application of high throughput genotyping to fecal samples from wildlife has been hindered by several labor intensive steps. Alternative protocols which could allow higher throughput were evaluated for two of these steps: sample collection and DNA extraction. Two different field sampling and seven different DNA extraction methods were tested on grey wolf (Canis lupus) feces. There was high variation in genotyping success rates. The field sampling method based on surface swabbing performed much worse than the extraction from a fecal fragment. In addition, there is a lot of room for improvement in the DNA extraction step. Optimization of protocols can lead to very much more efficient, cheaper and higher throughput noninvasive monitoring. Selection of appropriate markers is still of paramount importance to increase genotyping success. informacion[at] Sarabia et al (2020) Towards high-throughput analyses of fecal samples from wildlife. Animal Biodiver Conserv 43.2: 271–283 Doi 10.32800/abc.2020.43.0271
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A negative association between melanin-based plumage color heterogeneity and intensity in birds

A negative association between melanin-based plumage color heterogeneity and intensity in birds

Even though plumage diversity is one of the most diverse phenotypic traits in nature, the reasons why some species exhibit more distinctive colors than others are poorly known. In the case of melanins, the most abundant pigments in birds, different chemical forms lead to different plumage colors and different amounts of those forms lead to different color intensities. However, the synthesis of some melanin forms is more physiologically limited than others. Here, authors hypothesize that an evolutionary solution to this scenario may consist in a negative association between melanin-based color heterogeneity and intensity. This prediction is confirmed after analyzing the diversity and expression level of melanin-based plumage colors in 96 species of birds breeding in the Iberian Peninsula. After controlling for phylogenetic effects, the intensity of the plumage colors of birds decreased with the number of different colors, suggesting that the physiological mechanism of melanin synthesis does not favor the production of both a heterogeneity of melanin forms and large amounts of these forms. These findings contribute to a better understanding of bird phenotypic diversity. informacion[at] Galván & Rodríguez-Martínez (2019) A negative association between melanin-based plumaje color heterogeneity and intensity in birds. Physiol Biochem Zool