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DNA Yield and Turtle Handling Time: Buccal Swabs Versus Blood Samples from Red-eared Sliders and Eastern Musk Turtles

Sarah Thomas1, Layni LeBlanc1, Anna Perez-Umphrey1, Steven Tyler Williams1, Javier G. Nevarez2, and Sabrina S. Taylor1,*

1School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University and AgCenter, Baton Rouge, LA 70803.2School of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803.*Corresponding author.

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 19, Issue 2 (2020): 355–362

Conventional DNA sampling techniques for reptiles and amphibians are often invasive and difficult to perform in the field. Other, less invasive methods often pose issues with DNA contamination and low DNA yields. Few, if any, studies explicitly quantify handling time, despite being an important source of stress to the study species. Here, we compare handling time and DNA yield for 3 sampling methods (choanal, a general buccal sample excluding the choana, and blood) for Trachemys scripta elegans (Red-eared Slider) and Sternotherus odoratus (Eastern Musk Turtle). Buccal and blood samples had significantly higher DNA yields than choanal samples, but blood draws took substantially less time and personnel to collect than either mouth-sampling technique. Where possible, we recommend blood collection for DNA analyses in turtles.

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