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Methods Enzymol. 2005;395:73-87.

Nucleic acid isolation from ecological samples--animal scat and other associated materials.

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  • 1Department of Systematic Biology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20008-0551, USA.


Noninvasive sampling is very attractive to field biologists and has tremendous potential for studying secretive species and being a cost-effective method of increasing sample sizes in studies of large, dangerous animals. Extracting DNA from noninvasively collected samples can be challenging, and the methods have been developed mainly through modification of previously developed protocols for other sample types. We present the most commonly used methods along with modifications used by some researchers to deal with the problem of coextraction of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) inhibitors. Although it is difficult to generalize about which methods should be used on particular sample types, we discuss the success of the methods in studies to date. We close with general suggestions for dealing with potential problems associated with the analysis of DNA obtained from noninvasively collected samples.

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