Questioning the proverb ‘more haste, less speed’: classic versus metabarcoding approaches for the diet study of a remote island endemic gecko

  • Articles in SCI Journals
  • Dec, 2020

Gil, V., Pinho, C.J., Aguiar, C.A.S., Jardim, C., Rebelo, R. & Vasconcelos, R. (2020) Questioning the proverb ‘more haste, less speed’: classic versus metabarcoding approaches for the diet study of a remote island endemic gecko.

PeerJ, 8, e8084. DOI:10.7717/peerj.8084 (IF2020 2,984; Q1 Multidisciplinary Sciences)
Summary:

Dietary studies can reveal valuable information on how species exploit their habitats and are of particular importance for insular endemics conservation as these species present higher risk of extinction. Reptiles are often neglected in island systems, principally the ones inhabiting remote areas, therefore little is known on their ecological networks. The Selvagens gecko Tarentola (boettgeri) bischoffi, endemic to the remote and integral reserve of Selvagens Archipelago, is classified as Vulnerable by the Portuguese Red Data Book. Little is known about this gecko’s ecology and dietary habits, but it is assumed to be exclusively insectivorous. The diet of the continental Tarentola species was already studied using classical methods. Only two studies have used next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques for this genus thus far, and very few NGS studies have been employed for reptiles in general. Considering the lack of information on its diet and the conservation interest of the Selvagens gecko, we used morphological and DNA metabarcoding approaches to characterize its diet. The traditional method of morphological identification of prey remains in faecal pellets collected over a longer period was compared with metabarcoding of samples collected during rapid surveys. Molecular results revealed that this species is a generalist, feeding on invertebrate, plant and vertebrate items, whereas the morphological approaches were unable to detect the latter two. These results opened up new questions on the ecological role of the Selvagens gecko that deserves to be further explored, such as the possible predation on seabirds, plant services or trophic competition with the sympatric Madeira lizard Teira dugesii. Metabarcoding identified a greater diversity of dietary items at higher taxonomic resolution, but morphological identification enabled calculation of relative abundances and biomasses of ingested arthropods, and detected a dietary shift on invertebrate preys between seasons. Results of this study highlight the global applicability of rapid metabarcoding surveys for understudied taxa on remote islands that are difficult to access. We recommend using the metabarcoding approach, even if ‘speedy’ sampling only is possible, but we must highlight that disregarding long-term ecological data may lead to ‘hasty’ conclusion.


https://peerj.com/articles/8084/

Team

  • Questioning the proverb ‘more haste, less speed’: classic versus metabarcoding approaches for the diet study of a remote island endemic gecko Carlos Aguiar Tropical and Mediterranean Biodiversity - TMB
  • Questioning the proverb ‘more haste, less speed’: classic versus metabarcoding approaches for the diet study of a remote island endemic gecko Rui Rebelo Conservation in Socio-Ecological Systems - CSES
  • Questioning the proverb ‘more haste, less speed’: classic versus metabarcoding approaches for the diet study of a remote island endemic gecko Rui Rebelo Tropical and Mediterranean Biodiversity - TMB