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Molecular techniques for identifying intraguild predators of fishers and other North American small carnivores


  • Associate Editor: Blanchong

Greta M. Wengert,



Identifying predators of threatened and endangered species is important for understanding and reducing the impacts of predation. Visible evidence collected from a carcass alone is often insufficient to accurately identify predator species. The DNA from the predator left on the carcass allows for a definitive identification of predator species associated with the carcass, but DNA can be difficult to isolate independently from the prey. We developed field collection and molecular protocols for amplifying canid and felid predator DNA from saliva on fisher (Martes pennanti) carcasses without amplifying fisher DNA itself. We tested the protocol on fisher carcasses suspected of having been killed by a bobcat (Lynx rufus), mountain lion (Puma concolor), coyote (Canis latrans), and domestic dog. We successfully amplified and sequenced DNA from these 4 predator species, confirming predation by them on fishers. We confirmed that these protocols could also identify other felid and canid predators of several other small North American carnivores. © 2013 The Wildlife Society.