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Keywords:

  • abundance;
  • British Columbia;
  • DNA;
  • fecal pellets;
  • mark–recapture;
  • mountain goats;
  • Oreamnos americanus

Abstract

Non-invasive collection of tissue samples to obtain DNA for microsatellite genotyping required to estimate population size has been used for many wildlife species but rarely for ungulates. We estimated mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) population size on a mountain complex in southwestern British Columbia by identification of individuals using DNA obtained from fecal pellet and hair samples collected during 3 sampling sessions. We identified 55 individuals from 170 samples that were successfully genotyped, and estimated a population of 77 mountain goats (SE = 7.4). Mean capture probability was 0.38 (SE = 0.037) per session. Our technique provides one of the first statistically rigorous estimates of abundance of an ungulate species using DNA derived primarily from fecal pellets. Our technique enables managers to obtain minimum counts or population estimates of ungulates in areas of low sightability that can be used for conservation and management. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.