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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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Birds present worse body conditions in more urbanized areas

Birds present worse body conditions in more urbanized areas

Human landscape transformation, especially urbanization, strongly affects ecosystems worldwide. Both urban stressors and parasites have negative effects on organism health, however the potential synergy between those factors has been poorly investigated. The body condition (i.e. body mass after controlling for wing chord) of 2043 house sparrows (Passer domesticus; adults and yearlings) captured in 45 localities along an urbanization gradient in relation to Plasmodium, Haemoproteus and Leucocytozoon infection status was analysed. Body condition was negatively related to urbanization level and to urbanized land coverage but only in yearling birds from urban habitats. In addition, bird body condition tended to increase in rural habitats, significantly in the case of yearlings. Infected individuals by Plasmodium or Haemoproteus had higher body condition than un-infected birds, but this pattern could be due to a selective disappearance of infected individuals with lower body condition as suggested by the reduced variance in body condition in infected birds in urban habitats. These results provide support for a negative impact of urbanization on bird body condition, while Plasmodium and Haemoproteus may exert selection against individuals with lower body condition living in urban habitats, especially during earlier life stages, underlining the synergistic effects that urbanization and parasites may have on wild birds. informacion[at] Jiménez-Peñuela et al (2018) Urbanization and blood parasite infections affect the body condition of wild birds. Sci Total Environ Doi 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.10.203