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Forensic Sci Int. 2011 Apr 15;207(1-3):61-5. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2010.09.001. Epub 2010 Oct 8.

Use of femur bone density to segregate wild from farmed Dybowski's frog (Rana dybowskii).

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College of Wildlife Resources, Northeast Forestry University, No. 26, Hexing Road, Xiangfang District, Harbin 150040, China.


Wildlife has been utilized by humans throughout history and demand continues to grow today. Farming of wildlife can supplement the supply of wild-harvested wildlife products and, in theory, can reduce pressure on free-ranging populations. However, poached wildlife products frequently enter legal markets where they are fraudulently sold as farmed wildlife products. To effectively close this illegal trade in wild-captured wildlife, there is a need to discriminate wild products from farmed products. Because of the strong market demand for wild-captured frog meat and the resulting strong downward pressure on wild populations, we undertook research to develop a method to discriminate wild from farmed Dybowski's frog (Rana dybowskii) based on femur bone density. We measured femur bone density (D(f)) as the ratio of bone mass to bone volume. D(f) of wild frogs revealed a slightly increasing linear trend with increasing age (R(2)=0.214 in males and R(2)=0.111 in females, p=0.000). Wild males and wild females of age classes from 2 to ≥ 5 years had similar D(f) values. In contrast, 2-year-old farmed frogs showed significantly higher D(f) values (p=0.000) among males (mean D(f)=0.623 ± 0.011 g/ml, n=32) than females (mean D(f)=0.558 ± 0.011 g/ml, n=27). For both sexes, D(f) of wild frogs was significantly higher than that of farmed frogs (p=0.000). Among males, 87.5% (28 of 32 individuals) of farmed frogs were correctly identified as farmed frogs and 86.3% (69 of 80 individuals) of wild frogs were correctly identified as wild frogs. These results suggest that femur bone density is one reliable tool for discriminating between wild and farmed Dybowski's frog. This study also highlights a novel strategy with explicit forensic potential to discriminate wild from captive bred wildlife species.

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