Noninvasive genetic monitoring of animal populations has become a widely used method in animal conservation and wildlife management due to its known advantages in sample availability of endangered or elusive species. A variety of methods have been suggested to overcome the difficulties of collecting reliable genetic data despite poor DNA quality and quantity of samples. We used quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) to quantify DNA contents and preselect extracts suitable for microsatellite genotyping of noninvasive samples from 2 carnivore species, wolf (Canis lupus) and Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra). We tested 2 concentration thresholds for DNA extracts containing either 5 pg/µL or 25 pg/µL at minimum and evaluated the effect of excluding samples from genotyping falling below either of these DNA concentrations. Depending on species and threshold concentration applied, we reduced the genotyping effort by 21% to 47% and genotyping errors by 7% to 45%, yet we could still detect 82% to 99% of available genotypes. Thus, qPCR may potentially reduce genotyping effort and enhance data reliability in noninvasive genetic studies. Genetic laboratories working on noninvasive population genetic studies could transfer this approach to other species, streamline genetic analyses and, thus, more efficiently provide wildlife managers with reliable genetic data of wild populations.
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Vol. 74 • No. 8