Dung beetles as samplers of mammals in Malaysian Borneo-a test of high throughput metabarcoding of iDNA.

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From: PeerJ(Vol. 9)
Publisher: PeerJ. Ltd.
Document Type: Article
Length: 6,420 words
Lexile Measure: 1570L

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Abstract :

Invertebrate-derived DNA (iDNA) sampling in biodiversity surveys is becoming increasingly widespread, with most terrestrial studies relying on DNA derived from the gut contents of blood-feeding invertebrates, such as leeches and mosquitoes. Dung beetles (superfamily Scarabaeoidea) primarily feed on the faecal matter of terrestrial vertebrates and offer several potential benefits over blood-feeding invertebrates as samplers of vertebrate DNA. Importantly, these beetles can be easily captured in large numbers using simple, inexpensive baited traps, are globally distributed, and occur in a wide range of habitats. To build on the few existing studies demonstrating the potential of dung beetles as sources of mammalian DNA, we subjected the large-bodied, Bornean dung beetle (Catharsius renaudpauliani) to a controlled feeding experiment. We analysed DNA from gut contents at different times after feeding using qPCR techniques. Here, we first describe the window of DNA persistence within a dung beetle digestive tract. We found that the ability to successfully amplify cattle DNA decayed over relatively short time periods, with DNA copy number decreasing by two orders of magnitude in just 6 h. In addition, we sampled communities of dung beetles from a lowland tropical rainforest in Sabah, Malaysia, in order to test whether it is possible to identify vertebrate sequences from dung beetle iDNA. We sequenced both the gut contents from large dung beetle species, as well as whole communities of smaller beetles. We successfully identified six mammalian species from our samples, including the bearded pig (Sus barbatus) and the sambar deer (Rusa unicolor)-both vulnerable species on the IUCN red list. Our results represent the first use of dung beetle iDNA to sample Southeast Asian vertebrate fauna, and highlight the potential for dung beetle iDNA to be used in future biodiversity monitoring surveys.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A671901484