ISSN : 2765-2203
South Korea presently harbors less than 800 long-tailed gorals (Naemorhedus caudatus), an endangered species. I report for the first time on the taxonomic status and genetic diversity of the Korean species using non-invasive fecal sampling based on mitochondrial cytochrome b gene sequence analyses. To determine the taxonomic status of this species, I reconstructed a consensus neighbor-joining tree and generated a minimum spanning network combining haplotype sequences obtained from feces with a new goral-specific primer set developed using known sequences of the Korean goral and related species (e.g., Russian goral, Chinese goral, Himalayan goral, Japanese serow, etc.). I also examined the genetic diversity of this species. The Korean goral showed only three different haplotypes. The phylogenetic tree and parsimony haplotype network revealed a single cluster of Korean and Russian gorals, separate from related species. Generally, the Korean goral has a relatively low genetic diversity compared with that of other ungulate species (e.g., moose and red deer). I preliminarily showcased the application of non-invasive fecal sampling to the study of genetic characteristics, including the taxonomic status and genetic diversity of gorals, based on mitochondrial DNA. More phylogenetic studies are necessary to ensure the conservation of goral populations throughout South Korea.