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Banner for DNA-Based Species Identification (a waterway through trees)

Service overview

By analysis of DNA extracted from samples, Forest Research can identify the presence of cryptic or reclusive species. For example, this has been useful to conservationists in identifying bat species from droppings collected in roosts (including the common and soprano pipistrelle species), differentiating between red and black grouse droppings, and distinguishing between fox, pine marten and other mammal scats. Making secure identifications allows managers to make more effective land-use decisions. Species identification of tree roots has assisted in determining the cause of damage to buildings. We are currently optimising metabarcoding approaches to assess the effect of management regimes on insect biodiversity. Recent technological developments offer a way of identifying the species present in a single DNA extraction carried out on a mixed species sample e.g. that collected from a pitfall trap.

Sitka spruce needles samples

 Features and benefits

  • Greater accuracy than morphology alone: droppings from some animals (foxes and pine martens; red and black grouse) are difficult to distinguish morphologically, but DNA analysis can provide a definitive identification.
  • All species: we can sequence extracted DNA to test for most plant and animal species.
  • Easy: DNA testing of droppings is a simple way to confirm field observations
  • Value for money: collecting samples for DNA analysis can be more cost effective and accurate than time consuming field surveys of shy and elusive species or laborious species identification on the basis of specimen morphology.
  • Personal touch: direct access to laboratory staff means you can discuss your requirement, obtain advice and receive an appropriate, effective service

Costs and charges

Every project has its own specific needs and we take care to discuss these with the customer at the outset of any contract. We aim to deliver the best value for money.


Dr. Stuart A’Hara