A Simplified Field Protocol for Genetic Sampling of Birds Using Buccal Swabs

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Population genetic studies are driven by DNA sampling, and blood sampling has historically been the preferred method for obtaining DNA.

Less invasive buccal swabbing is gaining in popularity, but collection kits are expensive and until now, swabbing protocols have not been efficiently adapted to field settings. Researchers developed an efficient, cost-effective, and field-friendly protocol for sampling wild birds by comparing DNA yield among three inexpensive buccal swab types. Foam-tipped swabs provided higher DNA yields than cotton-tipped swabs, and storing swabs in Longmire buffer instead of performing a lengthy drying step increased efficiency in the field while still yielding sufficient amounts of DNA. This new field protocol allows time- and cost-effective DNA sampling of juveniles or small-bodied birds for which drawing blood may cause unnecessary stress.

Vilstrup, J.T., Mullins, T.D., Miller, M.P., McDearman, W., Walters, J.R., Haig, S.M., 2018, A simplified field protocol for genetic sampling of birds using buccal swabs: The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, https://doi.org/10.1676/16-105.1.

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Date published: November 27, 2017
Status: Active

FRESC Migratory Connectivity Team

Migratory Connectivity is the geographic linking of individuals or populations between stages of an animal's life cycle. Migration is most often associated with birds, and each year upwards of 5 billion birds worldwide migrate to their breeding or wintering grounds, stopping along the way to eat, rest, or find cover.

Contacts: Susan M Haig