Species From Feces

A tool for genetically identifying bats from non-invasively collected samples

The Applications

Cave Revised

  • Roost ID: Identify bat species present in a mine, cave, bridge, or bat box by using a sample of combined guano collected from multiple locations across the roost.
  • Field ID: Confirm identification of captured bats that are difficult to distinguish from others by using a fecal pellet or cheek swab.
  • IUCN Red List, Threatened, Endangered, and Sensitive Species: Identify at risk species. 

The searchable database on our website allows users to determine the power of our assay for identifying species that interest them. Although our Species From Feces tool has immediate application in the U.S., where bats are under threat from White-Nose Syndrome, it is a powerful global application and can identify bat species from Africa, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Europe, Pacific Islands, and North, Central, and South America.

We offer our species identification services to further bat research and conservation globally.  Download our brochure .


The Technology

Bat GuanoBat guano is a relatively untapped reservoir of information, having great utility as a DNA source because it is abundant at roosts even when bats are not present, and is stationary and easy to collect.  Three technologies have come of age that together enable species identification from guano:  reliable DNA typing from feces, DNA barcoding (species-specific genetic identifiers), and bioinformatic analysis.

Taking advantage of these advances, we have developed a DNA mini-barcode assay that targets a segment of mitochondrial gene cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) that we have found to be highly discriminatory among Chiroptera globally, works well with feces, and selectively targets bat but not prey DNA.

Our assay can currently identify about a third of the world’s bats (the majority of bat species that have been barcoded).  We have successfully validated our system from feces of insectivorous and nectarivorous bats, with fresh and aged fecal pellets, and with individual and pooled guano pellets, such that questions can target individuals (using specific fecal pellets) or populations and communities (long-term roost sites).