HAL will be down for maintenance from Friday, June 10 at 4pm through Monday, June 13 at 9am. More information
Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Journal articles

DNA barcoding identifies cryptic animal tool materials

Abstract : Some animals fashion tools or constructions out of plant materials to aid foraging, reproduction, self-maintenance, or protection. Their choice of raw materials can affect the structure and properties of the resulting artifacts, with considerable fitness consequences. Documenting animals’ material preferences is challenging, however, as manufacture behavior is often difficult to observe directly, and materials may be processed so heavily that they lack identifying features. Here, we use DNA barcoding to identify, from just a few recovered tool specimens, the plant species New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides) use for crafting elaborate hooked stick tools in one of our long-term study populations. The method succeeded where extensive fieldwork using an array of conventional approaches—including targeted observations, camera traps, radio-tracking, bird-mounted video cameras, and behavioral experiments with wild and temporarily captive subjects—had failed. We believe that DNA barcoding will prove useful for investigating many other tool and construction behaviors, helping to unlock significant research potential across a wide range of study systems.DNA sequence data have been deposited in GenBank (MT366813–MT366824 and MT366951–MT366962). Sequence alignments and resulting phylogenetic trees are deposited in Dryad (https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.d7wm37q1v) (19), including GenBank accession numbers.
Complete list of metadata

Contributor : Yannick Brohard Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Tuesday, July 13, 2021 - 1:58:41 PM
Last modification on : Friday, April 1, 2022 - 3:55:24 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, October 14, 2021 - 7:03:15 PM


Publisher files allowed on an open archive


Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License


  • HAL Id : hal-03285541, version 1


Matthew Steele, Linda Neaves, Barbara Klump, James St Clair, Joana Fernandes, et al.. DNA barcoding identifies cryptic animal tool materials. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , National Academy of Sciences, 2021, 118 (29), pp.e2020699118. ⟨hal-03285541⟩



Record views


Files downloads