Advancing ecological understandings through technological transformations in noninvasive genetics

Albano Beja-Pereira, Rita Oliveira, Paulo C. Alves, Michael K. Schwartz, Gordon Luikart

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

295 Scopus citations


Noninvasive genetic approaches continue to improve studies in molecular ecology, conservation genetics and related disciplines such as forensics and epidemiology. Noninvasive sampling allows genetic studies without disturbing or even seeing the target individuals. Although noninvasive genetic sampling has been used for wildlife studies since the 1990s, technological advances continue to make noninvasive approaches among the most used and rapidly advancing areas in genetics. Here, we review recent advances in noninvasive genetics and how they allow us to address important research and management questions thanks to improved techniques for DNA extraction, preservation, amplification and data analysis. We show that many advances come from the fields of forensics, human health and domestic animal health science, and suggest that molecular ecologists explore literature from these fields. Finally, we discuss how the combination of advances in each step of a noninvasive genetics study, along with fruitful areas for future research, will continually increase the power and role of noninvasive genetics in molecular ecology and conservation genetics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1279-1301
Number of pages23
JournalMolecular Ecology Resources
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Conservation genetics
  • Forensics
  • Genomics
  • Molecular ecology
  • Population genetics


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