Differentiation of two South African otter species (Aonyx capensis and Lutra maculicollis) from spraint based on partial CytB primer sets

M. Thabang Madisha, Damian Ponsonby, Ute Schwaibold, Antoinette Kotze, Ray Jansen, Helene Brettschneider, Desire Dalton

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Abstract

Accurate species identification based on visual cues can be challenging due to morphological similarities and the cryptic nature of certain species. Thus a more conclusive method
of identification is required, namely DNA barcoding. This is the case regarding two South
African otter species, Cape Clawless otter (Aonyx capensis) and the spotted necked otter
(Lutra maculicollis). Due to the cryptic nature of these animals faecal samples, known as
spraints, are the easiest way of confirming the presence of the animal in an area. In this
study, we compared results obtained for universal and partial CytB primer sets on collected
spraint and tissue control samples. Universal CytB primers revealed a low percentage of amplified otter species from faecal samples (species specific amplification success of 10.9%)
whereas, the partial CytB primer set resulted in successful amplification of 45 out of 55
(82%) samples. We were thus able to positively differentiate between the two otter species
using the partial CytB primer set developed in this study. The ability to accurately identify species using partial DNA will be beneficial in understanding numerous aspects of the
behaviour and ecological importance of animals in their environment
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-13
JournalGlobal Ecology and Conservation
Volume4
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2015

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