Testing multiple substrates for terrestrial biodiversity monitoring using environmental DNA metabarcoding

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Mieke van der Heyde

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Biological surveys are challenging, expensive, and time consuming, yet crucial for ecological restoration. Metabarcoding is a developing complementary technology that can enable biological auditing from DNA in the environment and may provide cost-effective monitoring to detect flora, fauna, and microbial communities. Metabarcoding involves the use of next generation sequencing to sequence barcode regions of the genome to determine the community composition of a sample. This study aims to test multiple sample substrates (soil, ant middens, scat, plant material, arthropods in pitfall and vane traps) to determine what organisms can be detected from each and where they overlap. Samples were collected in the Pilbara and Swan Coastal Plain regions of Western Australia and transported to facilities in Perth where the DNA was extracted, amplified, and sequenced targeting multiple gene regions. Results indicated that soil samples, despite showing promise for biological auditing in some climates, yielded little plant or animal DNA, likely because high temperatures and UV radiation in the study areas degraded the DNA. Bulk samples, such as arthropods from traps, and scat samples detected greater diversity. With these findings in mind, scat and arthropod samples were then collected from chronosequences of mining restoration to investigate the use of metabarcoding in restoration monitoring. By sampling chronosequences of restoration we hope to examine whether metabarcoding data can distinguish between reference and restoration sites. We aim to provide a guide for terrestrial metabarcoding sample collection in biological surveys and provide an example of how this method may be applied to restoration monitoring.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program

Society for Ecological Restoration