Identifying voucher specimens involving risk: Shrews from Chornobyl, Ukraine

Jeffrey K. Wickliffe, Igor Chizhevsky, Mark B. O'Neill, Brenda E. Rodgers, Yelena V. Dunina-Barkovskaya, Robert J. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Specimens may pose a risk to personnel handling them such as the radioactive fauna collected from contaminated areas in Chornobyl. To minimize radiation exposure and to evaluate an inexpensive molecular tool in identifying species of shrew, we analyzed DNA sequences from the cytochrome-b gene. Specimens were visually identified as Sorex araneus, S. minutus, and Neomys fodiens, and morphological variants were noted that could represent additional species. Cytochrome-b sequences indicated the apparent variants represented intraspecific polymorphisms. This approach substantially reduced exposure to radioactivity present in the archived material. Excluding salaries and cost of equipment, the analytical cost per specimen was US$9.00. The benefit and accuracy in identifying specimens this way is justified based on the reduction of risk these samples may pose.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-122
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Mammalogy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2003


  • Chernobyl
  • Cytochrome b
  • Neomys
  • Radiation
  • Risk
  • Shrews
  • Sorex


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