Genetic diversity is the ultimate foundation of biodiversity, and genetic technology has many applications in the conservation of amphibians and reptiles. Thanks to recent technical advances, molecular genetic studies using mitochondrial DNA and microsatellite (nuclear) DNA can be undertaken nondestructively using a single drop of blood, a fragment of shed skin, a fecal sample, or even a toe clip. Molecular genetic assays help identify populations, the fundamental units of wildlife management. Phylogenetic studies based on DNA sequences have proven valuable for uncovering cryptic species which are not apparent through morphology alone. These findings can be used to set conservation priorities on the basis of evolutionary distinctiveness. Molecular genetic markers can also be used to identify species found in commercial trade and, in some cases, can even trace the location from which a specimen or product originated.
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