DNA-Based Wildlife Studies course
- Start Date: November 18, 2002
- End Date: November 21, 2002
- City: Nelson BC
Recent Advances in DNA Technology
The goal of this session was to provide non-geneticists with targeted information that will enable them to understand, scrutinize, and defend the genetic data that they receive from laboratories. The workshop began with a review of basic molecular genetics (what is DNA, the central dogma, terminology, etc.), and an introduction to the common techniques (extraction, PCR, electrophoresis, DNA sequencing) that a low molecular biologists to study the genetic code at its most fundamental level. This was followed by a description of the specific markers and techniques that are used to establish individual identity. The workshop culminated in a discussion of how and where things can go wrong, and what can be done about it. Participants were introduced to signatures of error, protocols that can prevent and detect error, and empirical evidence as to how good (or bad) datasets can be.
Designing a DNA-Based Project
Instructor: Garth Mowat, Aurora Wildlife Research
Crescent Valley, BC
We discussed sampling designs for broad-scale inventories of terrestrial mammals including methods for predicting sample size needs. We began with a brief introduction to mark-recapture theory and how to use the program CAPTURE to predict estimator precision. Then we discussed field methods for sampling DNA from carnivores including bears, mustelids and felids. Topics included the use of baits, comparison of hair removal methods, and the handling of samples including sorting and sub-sampling to minimize laboratory analysis costs. We closed with a brief discussion of how broad-scale data of this type has been used and how we may benefit from these methods in the future.
Advanced Data Analysis Strategies
In the past ten years there has been a large degree of advancement in mark-recapture estimation. One of the main advancements has been the advent of flexible models that allow incorporation of covariates and the testing of research hypotheses directly from mark-recapture data as incorporated in program MARK. In this session we explored explore the application of newer mark-recapture methods to DNA data from grizzly bear populations. An overview of newer models and general estimation methodology and philosophy was given. From this, case studies of DNA projects for the purpose of population estimation and trend were introduced and discussed with an emphasis on the strengths and weaknesses of newer and older approaches to data analysis. Given the short time period of this workshop there was not enough time to analyze participant’s data sets. However, participants were encouraged to bring ideas and questions about how newer methods may be able to aid their research programs.