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Using DNA metabarcoding as a novel approach for analysis of platypus diet

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posted on 22.03.2022, 02:38 by T Hawke, G Bino, Michael ShackletonMichael Shackleton, AK Ross, RT Kingsford
Platypuses (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) forage for macroinvertebrate prey exclusively in freshwater habitats. Because food material in their faeces is well digested and mostly unidentifiable, previous dietary studies have relied on cheek pouch assessments and stable isotope analysis. Given DNA metabarcoding can identify species composition from only fragments of genetic material, we investigated its effectiveness in analysing the diet of platypuses, and to assess variation across seasons and sexes. Of the 18 orders and 60 families identified, Ephemeroptera and Diptera were the most prevalent orders, detected in 100% of samples, followed by Trichoptera, Pulmonata, and Odonata (86.21% of samples). Caenidae and Chironomidae were the most common families. Diptera had a high average DNA read, suggesting it is an important dietary component that may have been underestimated in previous studies. We found no variation in diet between sexes and only minimal changes between seasons. DNA metabarcoding proved to be a highly useful tool for assessing platypus diet, improving prey identification compared to cheek pouch analysis, which can underestimate soft-bodied organisms, and stable isotope analysis which cannot distinguish all taxa isotopically. This will be a useful tool for investigating how platypus prey diversity is impacted by habitat degradation as a result of anthropogenic stressors.

History

Publication Date

10/02/2022

Journal

Scientific Reports

Volume

12

Article Number

2247

Pagination

10p.

Publisher

Springer Nature

ISSN

2045-2322

Rights Statement

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. © The Author(s) 2022

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