National Park Service


Date of this Version



Conservation Genetics 3: 435–440, 2002.


Relatively few large-scale faecal DNA studies have been initiated due to difficulties in amplifying low quality and quantity DNA template. To improve brown bear faecal DNA PCR amplification success rates and to determine post collection sample longevity, five preservation methods were evaluated: 90% ethanol, DETs buffer, silica-dried, oven-dried stored at room temperature, and oven-dried stored at –20 C. Preservation effectiveness was evaluated for 50 faecal samples by PCR amplification of a mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) locus (∼146 bp) and a nuclear DNA (nDNA) locus (∼200 bp) at time points of one week, one month, three months and six months. Preservation method and storage time significantly impacted mtDNA and nDNA amplification success rates. For mtDNA, all preservation methods had ≥ 75% success at one week, but storage time had a significant impact on the effectiveness of the silica preservation method. Ethanol preserved samples had the highest success rates for both mtDNA (86.5%) and nDNA (84%). Nuclear DNA amplification success rates ranged from 26–88%, and storage time had a significant impact on all methods but ethanol. Preservation method and storage time should be important considerations for researchers planning projects utilizing faecal DNA. We recommend preservation of faecal samples in 90% ethanol when feasible, although when collecting in remote field conditions or for both DNA and hormone assays a dry collection method may be advantageous.