Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish who left a pile of poop.
Humans who live in multi-cat or multi-canine households might run into this problem when trying to discover which diarrhea-stricken pet to haul off to the vet.
Similarly, a deposit of scat on a hiking trail can inspire vivid conversations on the origin of the feces. But an intrigued hiker without a phone or camera who wants to bring a friend back for a viewing may find the excrement dispersed beyond recognition from weather conditions and trampling. Only a DNA test might be able to identify the species of animal that left the deposit if contextual clues, like a nearby moose, aren't there.
The microbial species found within excrement – the fecal microbiome – can reveal a lot about an animal.
To continue reading, go to my blog DNA Science, at Public Library of Science.