Aardvarks are native to much of sub-Saharan Africa, where they roam in search of ants and termites. They dig huge burrows across the landscape; abandoned burrows are known to provide shelter for a variety of other species including snakes, spotted hyenas, and African porcupines.
However, little is known about the aardvark’s distribution and the amount of genetic structure across its range. We have begun collecting noninvasive samples across South African, Kenyan, and Namibian populations to study this question, and plan to expand collections in the future.
With collaborator Dr. Hannah Tavalire we designed the first microsatellite primers for aardvarks; data from these loci will inform protected area management by enabling comparisons of aardvark population size and genetic differences across regions. Field work in protected areas has clarified presence or absence of this species in a number of locations to date.