Researchers from the University of Adelaide's Australian Centre for Ancient DNA and Environment Institute have developed a genetic test that identifies kangaroo species from their droppings.
The PCR-based test categorizes the marsupials based on species-specific DNA fragmentation patterns. These patterns were obtained from DNA extracted from hundreds of samples collected across northeastern Australia.
The developers say they've already used the test to identify a number of kangaroo species that occur well outside their known range, which has important implication for population management and conservation.
"The more information on the distribution of species, the better management decisions can be made, particularly in gauging potential land-use and climate change impacts on biodiversity," says Jessica Wadley, PhD student and lead author of paper published in Wildlife Research that describes the test, in a statement.
For example, it could be used "to rapidly and cheaply identify the source of kangaroo meat and products to detect illegal hunting of protected species," adds Jeremy Austin, ACAD's deputy director and co-author of the study.