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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 9:179-195 (2009)  -  DOI:

Wildlife DNA forensics—bridging the gap between conservation genetics and law enforcement

Rob Ogden1,2,*, Nick Dawnay2, Ross McEwing1,3

1Wildlife DNA Services, Tepnel Research Products and Services, Appleton Parkway, Livingston EH54 7EZ, UK
2School of Biological Sciences, Bangor University, Deiniol Road, Bangor LL57 2UW, UK
3TRACE Wildlife Forensics Network, Science Campus, Deiniol Rd, Bangor LL57 2UW, UK

ABSTRACT: Wildlife DNA forensics is an applied field that has emerged from a synthesis of conservation genetic research and forensic genetic practice to meet the increasing need for investigative tools in wildlife law enforcement. This review describes the principal technologies and applications available to wildlife forensic geneticists, focussing on the four most common casework questions: What species is it? Where did it come from? Who did it come from? Was it captive bred? The conversion of established research tools into forensic identification systems is discussed, explaining the need for method validation at each stage of the analytical process, from sample collection to data analysis. The requirement for wildlife DNA forensic analysis to be performed under equivalent quality assurance standards to those of human forensic genetics is highlighted and approaches for the interpretation and presentation of DNA evidence are described. A perspective is provided on the potential for new genetic techniques and their future role in the increasingly complex fight to enforce the protection of endangered species. The review concludes with a number of recommendations for promoting a unified, rigorous approach to the development and application of wildlife DNA forensic techniques.

KEY WORDS: Wildlife crime · Legal · Illegal trade · Poaching · CITES · Species identification · DNA profiling · Population assignment

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Cite this article as: Ogden R, Dawnay N, McEwing R (2009) Wildlife DNA forensics—bridging the gap between conservation genetics and law enforcement. Endang Species Res 9:179-195.

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