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Keywords:

  • microsatellites;
  • noninvasive genetic sampling;
  • Panthera uncia;
  • snow leopard

Abstract

Snow leopards (Panthera uncia) are elusive endangered carnivores found in remote mountain regions of Central Asia. New methods for identifying and counting snow leopards are needed for conservation and management efforts. To develop molecular genetic tools for individual identification of hair and faecal samples, we screened 50 microsatellite loci developed for the domestic cat (Felis catus) in 19 captive snow leopards. Forty-eight loci were polymorphic with numbers of alleles per locus ranging from two to 11. The probability of observing matching genotypes for unrelated individuals (2.1 × 10−11) and siblings (7.5 × 10−5) using the 10 most polymorphic loci was low, suggesting that this panel would easily discriminate among individuals in the wild.