Biodiv Sci ›› 2013, Vol. 21 ›› Issue (2): 197-205.  DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.09160

• Original Papers • Previous Articles     Next Articles

DNA barcoding in surveys of small mammal community: a case study in Lianhuashan, Gansu Province, China

Kai He1, Wenzhi Wang1, Quan Li1,2, Peipeng Luo3, Yuehua Sun4, Xuelong Jiang1*   

  1. 1State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan 650223

    2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049

    3Administrative Bureau of Lianhuashan National Nature Reserve, Kangle, Gansu 731516

    4Key Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101
  • Received:2012-08-14 Revised:2013-01-18 Online:2013-03-20 Published:2013-04-02
  • Contact: Xuelong Jiang


To evaluate the efficiency of DNA barcoding for identifying small mammals, and to enhance current understanding of mammalian diversity in the Lianhuashan Mountains, Gansu, China, standard morphological and DNA barcoding approaches were used to identify 77 small mammal specimens sampled from the Lianhuashan National Nature Reserve, Gansu. Thirteen species identified were assigned to seven families in three orders, among which seven species (Sorex bedfordiae, S. thibetanus, Scapanulus oweni, Apodemus agrarius, Niviventer confucianus, Eospalax smithi and Ochotona curzoniae) are new records for the Lianhuashan Mountains. Apodemus agrarius collected at 2,800 m above sea level is the highest altitude recorded for this species. We compared the success rate and accuracy of morphological and DNA barcoding approaches for identification. We found that morphological diagnosis requires well-preserved specimens and expert taxonomists, while success rate and accuracy of barcoding-based identification was limited by insufficient sequences in the genetic database. We suggest that morphology should still be the foundation and principal approach used for small mammal identification. Currently, DNA barcoding might be used as a complement for checking and correcting morphological mis-diagnosis.