Bat Speciation - DNA Analysis of Droppings
In the UK there are 18 species of bat, 17 of which are known to be breeding. However, numbers of bats in the UK have declined considerably over the years and thus as with the great crested newt (GCN eDNA service ), UK bat species are protected under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations (2010) and the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) (as amended).
Under these legislations it is illegal to:
- Disturb a bat or groups of bats in their roost
- Damage or destroy a bat roosting place, even if there are no bats present at the time
- Obstruct access to a bat roost
- Capture, injure or kill a bat or possess, advertise, sell or exchange a bat, or part of a bat dead or alive
Where a project or development is likely to impact bats or their roosts a survey is required to establish the species present and the number of bats likely to be affected along with the potential impact on the bats. In order to confirm the species present e.g. in cases where this has not been possible by traditional survey methods, DNA analysis of droppings can be carried out. Bat genotyping is a method used for reliable identification of bat species from guano (droppings) where e.g. identification from morphology is not possible or where bats cannot be seen and avoids the need to capture or trap these animals. Speciation is made possible by molecular analysis of the DNA found in droppings that have been collected from areas where bats are found.
In order to identify the species from which the droppings originated the DNA is first extracted and cleaned before PCR amplification and sequencing of a segment of the mitochondrial gene, cytochrome c oxidase I (COI). This information is then compared to a reference database containing DNA sequence information known species and thus enables the bat species to be determined.
The list price of each kit is £15 and each analysis is £45 (standard service) or £60 (fast track). All prices are ex VAT.