Sampling error in non-invasive genetic analyses of an endangered social carnivore

18 January 2010

Modern non-invasive genetic technologies are useful in studies of rare and difficult-to-observe species. An examination of endangered African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) faecal DNA revealed that 11.4% of samples were assigned incorrectly to an individual. Sampling mistakes in the field are not normally considered in non-invasive genetic assessments, but can be a significant source of error. To ensure meticulous data interpretation, non-invasive genetic studies should track and report sampling inaccuracies.