Jeanna Edlund

The Effect of Sample Type on DNA Yield in Birds

Conservation genetics is a growing field that aims to answer questions related to population dynamics, geographical genetic variation, species delimitation, and wildlife forensics. To answer these questions, biological field samples need to be collected to acquire the DNA of the organisms. One key concern with gathering these samples is invasive sampling procedures. Especially in avian populations, individuals are particularly vulnerable to stress from sampling due to their inherent small size. Noninvasive sampling methods have recently been gaining more traction to minimize this stress on the animal and reduce potential harm. This project aimed to determine whether there was a difference in DNA yield between invasively-collected samples and noninvasively-collected samples in birds. For data collection, several species of birds were captured via mist netting in Northern Minnesota at or near the Itasca Biological Station. Once caught, each individual had blood (invasive), buccal (noninvasive), and fecal (noninvasive) samples taken. Each of these samples was either preserved in the field with a 95% ethanol solution or FTA Cards. In the lab, phenol-chloroform (PCI/CI) DNA extraction was performed on these samples in order to quantify the amount of DNA present in each sample. Blood samples were determined to have a significantly greater DNA yield than buccal or fecal samples. There was no significant difference found in DNA yield between the two noninvasively-collected sample types. These results point to invasively-collected samples having a significantly higher DNA yield than non invasively-collected samples for birds.