• cryptic species;
  • Mazama;
  • noninvasive sampling;
  • small red brocket deer;
  • species identification


The small red brocket deer Mazama bororo is one of the most endangered deer in the Neotropics. The great morphological similarities with three other sympatric brocket deer species, coupled with the fact that they inhabit densely forested habitats complicate detection and prevent the use of traditional methodologies for accurate identification of species. The ability to determine the presence of this endangered species in an area is crucial for estimating its distribution range, and is critical for establishing conservation management strategies. Here we describe a fast and reliable noninvasive genetic method for species identification of Mazama species from faeces. We designed a primer set that amplifies a short 224-bp fragment of the cytochrome b and demonstrate its effectiveness in successful amplification of DNA isolated from both tissue and faecal samples. This fragment contains a BSTNI/ECORII digestion site that is unique to the endangered M. bororo. The digested polymerase chain reaction products yielded a 160-bp fragment that is clearly visible in a 2% agarose gel. Two other diagnostic sites were identified to differentiate the other three sympatric species, SspI (M. gouazoubira) and AflIII (M. americana, and M. nana).