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Keywords:

  • allelic dropout;
  • amplification success;
  • false allele;
  • genotyping errors;
  • low DNA;
  • noninvasive

Abstract

The use of noninvasively collected samples greatly expands the range of ecological issues that may be investigated through population genetics. Furthermore, the difficulty of obtaining reliable genotypes with samples containing low quantities of amplifiable DNA may be overcome by designing optimal genotyping schemes. Such protocols are mainly determined by the rates of genotyping errors caused by false alleles and allelic dropouts. These errors may not be avoided through laboratory procedure and hence must be quantified. However, the definition of genotyping error rates remains elusive and various estimation methods have been reported in the literature. In this paper we proposed accurate codification for the frequencies of false alleles and allelic dropouts. We then reviewed other estimation methods employed in hair- or faeces-based population genetics studies and modelled the bias associated with erroneous methods. It is emphasized that error rates may be substantially underestimated when using an erroneous approach. Genotyping error rates may be important determinants of the outcome of noninvasive studies and hence should be carefully computed and reported.