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      Eating local: influences of habitat on the diet of little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) : MOLECULAR DETECTION OF VARIATION IN DIET

      , , , ,
      Molecular Ecology
      Wiley

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          Abstract

          We employ molecular methods to profile the diet of the little brown bat, Myotis lucifugus, and describe spatial and temporal changes in diet over their maternity season. We identified 61 prey species of insects and 5 species of arachnid. The largest proportion of prey (∼32%) were identified as species of the mass-emerging Ephemeroptera (mayfly) genus Caenis. Bats roosting in agricultural settings had lower dietary richness than those occupying a roost located on a forest fragment in a conservation area. We detected temporal fluctuations in diet over the maternity season. Dipteran (fly) species dominated the diet early in the season, replaced later by species of mayfly. Because our methodology provides species-level identification of prey, we were able to isolate environmental indicator species in the diet and draw conclusions about the location and type of their foraging habitat and the health of these aquatic systems. The species detected suggested that the bats use variable habitats; members of one agricultural roost foraged on insects originating in rivers or streams while those in another agricultural roost and the forest roost fed on insects from pond or lake environments. All source water for prey was of fair to good quality, though no species detected are intolerant of pollution thus the habitat cannot be classified as pristine. Our study outlines a model system to investigate the abiotic and biotic interactions between habitat factors through this simple food chain to the top predator. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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          DNA barcodes distinguish species of tropical Lepidoptera.

          Although central to much biological research, the identification of species is often difficult. The use of DNA barcodes, short DNA sequences from a standardized region of the genome, has recently been proposed as a tool to facilitate species identification and discovery. However, the effectiveness of DNA barcoding for identifying specimens in species-rich tropical biotas is unknown. Here we show that cytochrome c oxidase I DNA barcodes effectively discriminate among species in three Lepidoptera families from Area de Conservación Guanacaste in northwestern Costa Rica. We found that 97.9% of the 521 species recognized by prior taxonomic work possess distinctive cytochrome c oxidase I barcodes and that the few instances of interspecific sequence overlap involve very similar species. We also found two or more barcode clusters within each of 13 supposedly single species. Covariation between these clusters and morphological and/or ecological traits indicates overlooked species complexes. If these results are general, DNA barcoding will significantly aid species identification and discovery in tropical settings.
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            Defining and measuring ecological specialization

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              Molecular analysis of predation: a review of best practice for DNA-based approaches.

              Molecular analysis of predation, through polymerase chain reaction amplification of prey remains within the faeces or digestive systems of predators, is a rapidly growing field, impeded by a lack of readily accessible advice on best practice. Here, we review the techniques used to date and provide guidelines accessible to those new to this field or from a different molecular biology background. Optimization begins with field collection, sample preservation, predator dissection and DNA extraction techniques, all designed to ensure good quality, uncontaminated DNA from semidigested samples. The advantages of nuclear vs. mitochondrial DNA as primer targets are reviewed, along with choice of genes and advice on primer design to maximize specificity and detection periods following ingestion of the prey by the predators. Primer and assay optimization are discussed, including cross-amplification tests and calibratory feeding experiments. Once primers have been made, the screening of field samples must guard against (through appropriate controls) cross contamination. Multiplex polymerase chain reactions provide a means of screening for many different species simultaneously. We discuss visualization of amplicons on gels, with and without incorporation of fluorescent primers. In more specialized areas, we examine the utility of temperature and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis to examine responses of predators to prey diversity, and review the potential of quantitative polymerase chain reaction systems to quantify predation. Alternative routes by which prey DNA might get into the guts of a predator (scavenging, secondary predation) are highlighted. We look ahead to new technologies, including microarrays and pyrosequencing, which might one day be applied to this field.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Molecular Ecology
                Wiley
                09621083
                April 2011
                April 2011
                March 02 2011
                : 20
                : 8
                : 1772-1780
                Article
                10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05040.x
                21366747
                20ec3811-36a3-45e1-bf3f-0ac0ca3dca6a
                © 2011

                http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/tdm_license_1.1

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