Wildlife genetics and forensics

We offer a wide range of genetic applications in the field of wildlife genetics, comprising e.g. estimation population size and population genetic parameters based on non-invasively collected samples (e.g. hair or faeces), species determination for samples of unknown provenience (also possible for processed meat products), sex determination and individual identification. For these applications, we can make use of smallest amounts of DNA from hair, feathers, faeces or saliva of animals.

We possess a wide experience in wildlife genetics and –forensics and offer DNA analyses for various applications in this field.

  • Species determination on the basis of tissue, hair, saliva of faeces samples
  • Species determination of processed meat or fish products
  • Species and gender determination as well as genetic differentiation of individuals on the basis of tissue, blood, bones, hair, feather, saliva or faeces; this approach is also suitable for e.g. discovery of poaching incidents and the assessment of the causer or perpetrator of accidents in which animals are involved, or of biting injuries
  • Analysis of ancestry (paternity- / maternity-testing) in wild and domestic animals
  • Population genetic studies based on non-invasively obtained samples (e.g. hair or faeces): population size/density estimations and determination of population genetic parameters like heterozygosity, variability, etc.

We are specialized in the analysis of smallest amounts of DNA from hair, feathers, faeces or saliva from animals. Based on different genetic approaches like sequencing of mitochondrial DNA, microsatellite genotyping or SNP analyses the treatment of numerous issues is possible. One major part of our work is e.g. the non-invasive estimation of population size by using microsatellites. Non-invasive in this context means estimating the size of a population without trapping or culling an animal and without even having to see the animals. This method is currently one of the most accurate approaches notably for wild animals in habitats which are difficult to overview but also for rare or endangered species because it can be carried out with minimal disturbance and without risk for the animals. We can offer the support of such projects from scheduling, organization and implementation of sample collection to the genetic analysis and evaluation up to the estimation of population size and/or density by using statistical approaches like traditional or spatially explicit capture-recapture, robust design, or CAPWIRE). We already are experienced with a number of species (red deer, roe deer, wild boar, chamois, red fox, wild cat, different bat species), for red deer, roe deer and chamois being the first to successfully establish non-invasive population estimation. It is generally possible to establish the approach for other species.

Non-invasively obtained samples often contain low amounts of partially degraded DNA. To optimize the results and to work as cost-effective as possible, we offer a DNA-screening before further analysis in order to detect and exclude samples with very amounts of target DNA using quantitative real time-PCR. All our analyses are performed based on strict scientific standards including repeated microsatellite analyses.

If you are interested in our work or if you have any questions concerning animal (or plant) genetic issues not listed here – feel free to contact us!  We are looking forward to developing customized solutions for your projects.

Dr. Cornelia Ebert

Phone: +49 (0)631 / 31 67 0 – 49