Date of Graduation

Summer 2014


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Lynn Robbins


DNA recovered from fecal samples can be used to identify the species of an organism, which can be useful when monitoring areas for species' use, such as bat roosts. To determine if bat species that regularly utilize artificial habitat during the maternity season are more likely to inhabit a specific design of artificial habitat, six bat house designs (n=2 – 6) were erected in four locations across Missouri, and monitored in 2012 and 2013. Guano samples were collected within two weeks of deposition. To determine if mtDNA can be PCR-amplified from guano, and if Missouri species can be confidently identified on the basis of guano-derived mtDNA sequences, a reference DNA sequence was created for each primer set for each bat species using mitochondrial DNA sequences obtained from wing tissue. Five environmental samples of 144 collected produced sequences identifiable as four Myotis lucifugus and one Eptesicus fuscus. These data were not enough to draw conclusions on species' design preference. A trial of the length of time fecal samples are viable when exposed to sunlight, heat, and humidity was conducted. Simple linear regressions comparing the length of exposure to the percentage of samples collected each day that produced PCR product (R2=74 – 76%) and the percentage that produced comparable sequences (R2=52 – 56%) both showed a negative correlation between exposure and success (P<0.01). These results demonstrate that DNA rapidly degrades in bat fecal samples exposed to the environment, and therefore a regular daily sampling is required for the accurate identification of bat species based on fecal samples.


Chiroptera, Missouri, artificial roost, guano, DNA

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© Brenna Erin Tinsley

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