Schilling, A.-K., Mazzamuto, M. V., Romeo, C. 2022. A review of non-invasive sampling in wildlife disease and health research: What’s new? Animals 12(13), 1719.
In the last decades, wildlife diseases and the health status of animal populations have gained increasing attention from the scientific community as part of a One Health framework. Furthermore, the need for non-invasive sampling methods with a minimal impact on wildlife has become paramount in complying with modern ethical standards and regulations, and to collect high-quality and unbiased data. We analysed the publication trends on non-invasive sampling in wildlife health and disease research and offer a comprehensive review on the different samples that can be collected non-invasively. We retrieved 272 articles spanning from 1998 to 2021, with a rapid increase in number from 2010. Thirty-nine percent of the papers were focussed on diseases, 58% on other health-related topics, and 3% on both. Stress and other physiological parameters were the most addressed research topics, followed by viruses, helminths, and bacterial infections. Terrestrial mammals accounted for 75% of all publications, and faeces were the most widely used sample. Our review of the sampling materials and collection methods highlights that, although the use of some types of samples for specific applications is now consolidated, others are perhaps still underutilised and new technologies may offer future opportunities for an even wider use of non-invasively collected samples.