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      Pet or pest? Stable isotope methods for determining the provenance of an invasive alien species

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          Abstract

          The illegal pet trade facilitates the global dispersal of invasive alien species (IAS), providing opportunities for new pests to establish in novel recipient environments. Despite the increasing threat of IAS to the environment and economy, biosecurity efforts often lack suitable, scientifically-based methods to make effective management decisions, such as identifying an established IAS population from a single incursion event. We present a proof-of-concept for a new application of a stable isotope technique to identify wild and captive histories of an invasive pet species. Twelve red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans) from historic Australian incursions with putative wild, captive and unknown origins were analysed to: (1) present best-practice methods for stable isotope sampling of T. s. elegans incursions; (2) effectively discriminate between wild and captive groups using stable isotope ratios; and (3) present a framework to expand the methodology for use on other IAS species. A sampling method was developed to obtain carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) stable isotope ratios from the keratin layer of the carapace (shells), which are predominantly influenced by dietary material and trophic level respectively. Both δ13C and δ15N exhibited the potential to distinguish between the wild and captive origins of the samples. Power simulations demonstrated that isotope ratios were consistent across the carapace and a minimum of eight individuals were required to effectively discriminate wild and captive groups, reducing overall sampling costs. Statistical classification effectively separated captive and wild groups by δ15N (captive: δ15N‰ ≥ 9.7‰, minimum of 96% accuracy). This study outlines a practical and accessible method for detecting IAS incursions, to potentially provide biosecurity staff and decision-makers with the tools to quickly identify and manage future IAS incursions.

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          Most cited references 39

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          Nitrogen and carbon isotopic composition of bone collagen from marine and terrestrial animals

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            Resolving temporal variation in vertebrate diets using naturally occurring stable isotopes.

            Assessments of temporal variation in diets are important for our understanding of the ecology of many vertebrates. Ratios of naturally occurring stable isotopes in animal tissues are a combination of the source elements and tissue specific fractionation processes, and can thus reveal dietary information. We review three different approaches that have been used to resolve temporal diet variation through analysis of stable isotopes. The most straightforward approach is to compare samples from the same type of tissue that has been sampled over time. This approach is suited to address either long or short-term dietary variation, depending on sample regime and which tissue that is sampled. Second, one can compare tissues with different metabolic rates. Since the elements in a given tissue have been assimilating during time spans specific to its metabolic rate, tissues with different metabolic rates will reflect dietary records over different periods. Third, comparisons of sections from tissues with progressive growth, such as hair, feathers, claws and teeth, will reveal temporal variation since these tissues will retain isotopic values in a chronological order. These latter two approaches are mainly suited to address questions regarding intermediate and short-term dietary variation. Knowledge of tissue specific metabolic rates, which determine the molecular turnover for a specific tissue, is of central importance for all these comparisons. Estimates of isotopic fractionation between source and measured target are important if specific hypotheses regarding the source elements are addressed. Estimates of isotopic fractionation, or at least of differences in fractionation between tissues, are necessary if different tissues are compared. We urge for more laboratory experiments aimed at improving our understanding of differential assimilation of dietary components, isotopic fractionation and metabolic routing. We further encourage more studies on reptiles and amphibians, and generally more studies utilizing multiple tissues with different turnover rates.
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              Alien Invasive Slider Turtle in Unpredicted Habitat: A Matter of Niche Shift or of Predictors Studied?

              Background Species Distribution Models (SDMs) aim on the characterization of a species' ecological niche and project it into geographic space. The result is a map of the species' potential distribution, which is, for instance, helpful to predict the capability of alien invasive species. With regard to alien invasive species, recently several authors observed a mismatch between potential distributions of native and invasive ranges derived from SDMs and, as an explanation, ecological niche shift during biological invasion has been suggested. We studied the physiologically well known Slider turtle from North America which today is widely distributed over the globe and address the issue of ecological niche shift versus choice of ecological predictors used for model building, i.e., by deriving SDMs using multiple sets of climatic predictor. Principal Findings In one SDM, predictors were used aiming to mirror the physiological limits of the Slider turtle. It was compared to numerous other models based on various sets of ecological predictors or predictors aiming at comprehensiveness. The SDM focusing on the study species' physiological limits depicts the target species' worldwide potential distribution better than any of the other approaches. Conclusion These results suggest that a natural history-driven understanding is crucial in developing statistical models of ecological niches (as SDMs) while “comprehensive” or “standard” sets of ecological predictors may be of limited use.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                NeoBiota
                NB
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-2488
                1619-0033
                July 28 2020
                July 28 2020
                : 59
                : 21-37
                Article
                10.3897/neobiota.59.53671
                © 2020

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