Is GEM Right for Me?
Our understanding of the natural world has been dramatically
expanded by the field of molecular biology. Yet, modern breakthroughs
in technology, the hype of this technology in popular culture,
and the remarkable applications of new tools for answering age-old
questions have lead to some confusion about the realistic abilities
of molecular genetic techniques in the context of wildlife research.
While it is true that noninvasive genetic sampling, coupled with
molecular biology tools, has proven to be very effective at answering
important management, evolutionary, and ecological questions,
these tools are not a panacea. Although molecular geneticists
can currently identify individuals, sex, and sometimes population
membership, they cannot provide information on an individual's
age or life-stage (i.e., young-of-the year, juvenile, adult)
from a noninvasively collected samples (although see Nakagawa
2004 for future possibilities).
This page is intended to guide managers through addressing their
options relative to the strengths and weaknesses of genetic monitoring
Two general paths are presented: