Institut for Biologi

Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

J.-C. Svenning

Environmental DNA metabarcoding of cow dung reveals taxonomic and functional diversity of invertebrate assemblages

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Insects and other terrestrial invertebrates are declining in species richness and abundance. This includes the invertebrates associated with herbivore dung, which have been negatively affected by grazing abandonment and the progressive loss of large herbivores since the Late Pleistocene. Importantly, traditional monitoring of these invertebrates is time-consuming and requires considerable taxonomic expertise, which is becoming increasingly scarce. In this study, we investigated the potential of environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding of cow dung samples for biomonitoring of dung-associated invertebrates. From eight cowpats we recovered eDNA from 12 orders, 29 families, and at least 54 species of invertebrates (mostly insects), representing several functional groups. Furthermore, species compositions differed between the three sampled habitats of dry grassland, meadow, and forest. These differences were in accordance with the species’ ecology; for instance, several species known to be associated with humid conditions or lower temperatures were found only in the forest habitat. We discuss potential caveats of the method, as well as directions for future study and perspectives for implementation in research and monitoring.

TidsskriftMolecular Ecology
StatusAccepteret/In press - 2020

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
We thank the Mols Laboratory for help and assistance with carrying out the field work. This study was supported by the Carlsberg Foundation (grant CF18‐0949) and the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Aarhus University. JCS considers this work a contribution to his Carlsberg Foundation Semper Ardens project MegaPast2Future (grant CF16‐0005) and to his VILLUM Investigator project “Biodiversity Dynamics in a Changing World” funded by VILLUM FONDEN (grant 16549). KO acknowledges funding for this project from 15. Juni Fonden (grant 2017‐N‐10). For photographs in Figure 2 we thank Riika Elo (1, 2); Universitetet i Bergen (3); Jesper Reibel (4, 18, 21, 24, 25); Ruth Ahlburg (5, 19, 23, 26, 27); Arne Fjellberg (6), Jonas Ravn Jensen (7), Klaus Bek Nielsen (8), Ole Martin (11), Andreas Boe (13), Line Sabroe (14, 22), Jens Søgaard‐Hansen (15), Karsten Thomsen (16), Oddvar Hansen, NTNU University Museum, Trondheim, Norway (17), Henrik Baark (20), Acarologiste, Creative Commons (CC BY‐SA 4.1), (28), Jesper Monrad & Christina Thoisen, Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. Molecular Ecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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