Non-invasive population genetics has become a valuable tool in ecology and conservation biology, allowing genetic studies of wild populations without the need to catch, handle or even observe the study subjects directly. We address some of the concerns regarding the limitations of using non-invasive samples by comparing the quality of population genetic information gained through DNA extracted from faecal samples and biopsy samples of two elusive bat species, Myotis mystacinus and Myotis nattereri. We demonstrate that DNA extracted from faeces and tissue samples gives comparable results for frequency based population genetic analyses, despite the occurrence of genotyping errors when using faecal DNA. We conclude that non-invasive genetic sampling for population genetic analysis in bats is viable, and although more labour-intensive and expensive, it is an alternative to tissue sampling, which is particularly pertinent when specimens are rare, endangered or difficult to capture.
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Vol. 14 • No. 1