Main content area

Using metabarcoding to compare the suitability of two blood‐feeding leech species for sampling mammalian diversity in North Borneo

Drinkwater, Rosie, Schnell, Ida Bærholm, Bohmann, Kristine, Bernard, Henry, Veron, Géraldine, Clare, Elizabeth, Gilbert, M. Thomas P., Rossiter, Stephen J.
Molecular ecology resources 2019 v.19 no.1 pp. 105-117
DNA, DNA barcoding, Hirudinea, community structure, feeding preferences, hematophagy, high-throughput nucleotide sequencing, invertebrates, landscapes, loci, monitoring, polymerase chain reaction, rain forests, ribosomal RNA, rodents, samplers, sympatry, wildlife management, Borneo
The application of high‐throughput sequencing (HTS) for metabarcoding of mixed samples offers new opportunities in conservation biology. Recently, the successful detection of prey DNA from the guts of leeches has raised the possibility that these, and other blood‐feeding invertebrates, might serve as useful samplers of mammals. Yet little is known about whether sympatric leech species differ in their feeding preferences, and whether this has a bearing on their relative suitability for monitoring local mammalian diversity. To address these questions, we collected spatially matched samples of two congeneric leech species Haemadipsa picta and Haemadipsa sumatrana from lowland rainforest in Borneo. For each species, we pooled ~500 leeches into batches of 10 individuals, performed PCR to target a section of the mammalian 16S rRNA locus and undertook sequencing of amplicon libraries using an Illumina MiSeq. In total, we identified sequences from 14 mammalian genera, spanning nine families and five orders. We found greater numbers of detections, and higher diversity of OTUs, in H. picta compared with H. sumatrana, with rodents only present in the former leech species. However, comparison of samples from across the landscape revealed no significant difference in mammal community composition between the leech species. We therefore suggest that H. picta is the more suitable iDNA sampler in this degraded Bornean forest. We conclude that the choice of invertebrate sampler can influence the detectability of different mammal groups and that this should be accounted for when designing iDNA studies.