Using Feces to Identify Species

File:Hibernating Virginia big eared bats in cave.jpg Image of big eared bats By Stihler Craig, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

According to a press release from Northern Arizona University, Drs. Faith Walker and Carol Chambers at the Bat Ecology & Genetics Lab have developed a system called Species From Feces to identify bat species from guano collected in field locations such as mines, caves, bridges, etc. The system takes advantage of DNA sequencing technology and an assay to look for genetic identifiers unique to different species using DNA barcodes. The sequences can then be compared to a searchable database to identify what species of bats were present at that location.

This method is a great way to screen populations for endangered species and to verify what species of bats have been in a location. The team reports that their technology has been used to differentiate species that look similar as well.

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