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Identification of three Sorex species with microsatellite markers
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Three sibling species of shrews, the common shrew (Sorex araneus), the Valais shrew (S. antinorii) and the Jersey shrew (S. coronatus) are morphologically similar. Different techniques based on karyorypes, morphology, biochemistry and genetic markers have been developed to identify individuals from these taxa. In this paper, we have used multiple microsatellite markers (L13, L14 and L99) to identify 55 dead animals coming from the Tarentaise Valley in France. As some individuals showed an unclear pattern with loci previously thought to be diagnostic (Lugon-Moulin et al. 2000), we have used morphologic measurements (Hausser et al. 1991) to confirm the status of these animals. This analysis clearly showed the limitations of the use of genetic diagnostic markers that have been designed in local populations and then applied to a wider scale. Even if these markers have great advantages over other techniques (i.e. simple to use and do not require samples from living animals), they should always be used with caution. There is always a risk of a locus not being diagnostic in the sampling region or in finding individuals with hybrid genotypes. Additional genetic markers should then be used, simultaneously with other identification techniques, to be sure of the status of the individuals.
common shrew, Sorex species identification, diagnostic markers, microsatellites
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