While many animals are easy to identify using just visual information, bats' nocturnal nature, ability to fly, frequent small size and other factors make them challenging to study in the wild. So they were excellent candidates for the Species From Feces tool.
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Lead author Faith Walker, who is director of the Bat Ecology & Genetics Lab at Northern Arizona University, explained how it works.
"Basically about 200 guano pellets are collected from across a bat roost and pooled into a single tube of DNA preservative," Walker told Discovery News. "DNA is then extracted, and after many steps it's placed into a next-generation sequencer, and a short (200 base pairs) DNA region that's really good at species-level identification is sequenced."
At that stage, the researchers have tens of thousands of bat "reads" or sequence data.
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