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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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European Corvids disperse plants from 42 families by endozoochory

European Corvids disperse plants from 42 families by endozoochory

Members of the crow family (Corvidae) are known to disperse seeds by frugivory or by scatter hoarding, but are rarely recognized as vectors of plants lacking a fleshy fruit, or a large nut. A century ago, S.A. Heintze carried out extensive field studies of seed dispersal by 11 species of European Corvidae, especially Magpies Pica pica and Hooded Crows Corvus cornix. His work was published in Swedish and has been overlooked until now, and suggests that contemporary views about seed dispersal by corvids are too narrow. Heintze identified 157 plant taxa from 42 families which were dispersed by corvids by endozoochory. Most (54%) of these plant species lack a fleshy fruit and have previously been assigned to other dispersal syndromes, mainly associated with wind, self-dispersal or epizoochory. Of 27 taxa germinated by Heintze from seeds extracted from pellets or feces, 20 lack a fleshy fruit. He also recorded 32 taxa as seedlings that germinated from pellets in the field, 11 of which lacked a fleshy fruit. Finally, Heintze's data show that corvids were already dispersing alien plants a century ago, such as the North American Dwarf Serviceberry Amelanchier spicata. informacion[at] Green et al (2019) Beyond scatter-hoarding and frugivory: European corvids as overlooked vectors for a broad range of plants. Front Ecol Evol doi: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00133