Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Data from: Evaluating the interaction of faecal pellet deposition rates and DNA degradation rates to optimize sampling design for DNA-based mark-recapture analysis of Sonoran pronghorn

Citation

Woodruff, Susannah P.; Johnson, Timothy R.; Waits, Lisette P. (2014), Data from: Evaluating the interaction of faecal pellet deposition rates and DNA degradation rates to optimize sampling design for DNA-based mark-recapture analysis of Sonoran pronghorn, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.k3b7d

Abstract

Knowledge of population demographics is important for species management but can be challenging in low-density, wide-ranging species. Population monitoring of the endangered Sonoran pronghorn (Antilocapra americana sonoriensis) is critical for assessing the success of recovery efforts, and noninvasive DNA sampling (NDS) could be more cost-effective and less intrusive than traditional methods. We evaluated faecal pellet deposition rates and faecal DNA degradation rates to maximize sampling efficiency for DNA-based mark–recapture analyses. Deposition data were collected at five watering holes using sampling intervals of 1–7 days and averaged one pellet pile per pronghorn per day. To evaluate nuclear DNA (nDNA) degradation, 20 faecal samples were exposed to local environmental conditions and sampled at eight time points from one to 124 days. Average amplification success rates for six nDNA microsatellite loci were 81% for samples on day one, 63% by day seven, 2% by day 14 and 0% by day 60. We evaluated the efficiency of different sampling intervals (1–10 days) by estimating the number of successful samples, success rate of individual identification and laboratory costs per successful sample. Cost per successful sample increased and success and efficiency declined as the sampling interval increased. Results indicate NDS of faecal pellets is a feasible method for individual identification, population estimation and demographic monitoring of Sonoran pronghorn. We recommend collecting samples >7 days old and estimate that a sampling interval of 4–7 days in summer conditions (i.e. extreme heat and exposure to UV light) will achieve desired sample sizes for mark–recapture analysis while also maximizing efficiency.

Usage Notes

Location

Sonoran Desert
Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge