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DNA markers for identifying individual snowshoe hares using field-collected pellets

Posted date: November 07, 2007
Publication Year: 
2007
Authors: Schwartz, Michael K.Pilgrim, Kristine L.McKelvey, Kevin S.; Rivera, Pilar T.; Ruggiero, Leonard F.
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Northwest Science. 81(4): 316-322.

Abstract

Snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) abundance has been of interest to wildlife biologists, as hares are essential prey items for many rare and endangered predators. Snowshoe hare abundance has most commonly been estimated through indices such as pellet counts. While pellet counts may be useful in the areas they are developed and when hares are dense, they notably fail when hares are at low densities. Abundance estimates using capture-mark-recapture (CMR) are often preferred over indices of animal abundance, yet using CMR to estimate snowshoe hare numbers has proven a formidable and expensive task. Sample sizes obtained using traditional CMR techniques are frequently low, resulting in either biased estimates or estimates with unacceptably high variance. Here we derive a suite of 9 microsatellite DNA markers that can provide snowshoe hare individual identification at relatively low cost. We demonstrate that these markers produce no genotyping errors in a captive situation and use the markers to produce individual identification of free-ranging snowshoe hares in test plots in Montana and Idaho.

Citation

Schwartz, Michael K.; Pilgrim, Kristine L.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Rivera, Pilar T.; Ruggiero, Leonard F. 2007. DNA markers for identifying individual snowshoe hares using field-collected pellets. Northwest Science. 81(4): 316-322.