Diagnostic Genetic Marker That Differentiates Eastern Fox Squirrels From Eastern Gray Squirrels




Abstract The Delmarva fox squirrel (Sciurus niger cinereus) has been listed as endangered by the United States Department of Interior since 1967. A high-priority task for the recovery of this taxon is to determine its current geographic distribution. Toward this end, we have identified a microsatellite locus that unambiguously differentiates Delmarva fox squirrels from eastern gray squirrels (S. carolinensis), which frequently co-occur with Delmarva fox squirrels. Analysis of this marker in noninvasively collected hair samples will allow unequivocal identification of localities occupied by Delmarva fox squirrels with a minimum investment of funds, time, and effort because handling individuals will be unnecessary. This protocol will expedite site review in connection with the Endangered Species Act consultation process.