To assess the value of molted feathers as a noninvasive source of DNA for genetic studies of Northern Goshawks (Accipiter gentilis), we isolated and quantified DNA from molted feathers and compared yields across five feather types. We also compared PCR success across the same five feather types using five microsatellite genetic markers of varying size. In addition, we compared DNA yields from a commonly used extraction method versus one we modified to increase DNA yield. Results indicated molted feathers provided on average 24 ng μl−1 of DNA, which is a relatively high DNA yield compared to other noninvasive tissue sources. Tail feathers yielded significantly more DNA than primary, secondary, and smaller feathers, yet all feather sizes produced equally high rates of PCR success. Although our modified extraction method increased the time required for processing feathers, it resulted in significantly higher yields of DNA as compared to the unmodified protocol.
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Vol. 110 • No. 4