Genetic identification of prey species from teeth in faeces from the Endangered leopard cat <i>Prionailurus bengalensis</i> using mitochondrial <i>cytochrome b</i> gene sequence

<p>To understand the dietary ecology of the leopard cat (<i>Prionailurus bengalensis</i>), DNA analysis was performed to identify prey species using DNA isolated from teeth harvested from the faeces of this feline species. From 70 DNA samples, a total of 52 mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) <i>cytochrome b</i> (<i>cytb</i>) gene sequences of mammals were identified. The results of a sequence identity test indicated that those sequences were derived from four rodent species (<i>Apodemus agrarius</i>, <i>Apodemus peninsulae</i>, <i>Eothenomys regulus</i> and <i>Tamias sibiricus</i>) and two shrew species (<i>Crocidura lasiura</i> and <i>Crocidura shantungensis</i>). The sequences contained nine unique <i>cytb</i> sequences from site 1 and 13 from site 2. These results indicate that the leopard cat hunts rodents and shrews, and at least nine animals at site 1 and 13 animals at site 2 were eaten. These findings suggest that the animal molecular signatures that remain undigested in the faeces may provide useful ecological information about food items and may contribute to a better understanding of the leopard cat’s feeding ecology.</p>