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PLoS One January 1, 2019; 14 (7): e0220081.

Gaining ecological insight on dietary allocation among horseshoe bats through molecular primer combination.

Aldasoro M , Garin I , Vallejo N , Baroja U , Arrizabalaga-Escudero A , Goiti U , Aihartza J .

Knowledge on the trophic interactions among predators and their prey is important in order to understand ecology and behaviour of animals. Traditionally studies on the diet composition of insectivorous bats have been based on the morphological identification of prey remains, but the accuracy of the results has been hampered due to methodological limitations. Lately, the DNA metabarcoding and High Throughput Sequencing (HTS) techniques have changed the scene since they allows prey identification to the species level, ultimately giving more precision to the results. Nevertheless, the use of one single primer set to amplify faecal DNA produces biases in the assessed dietary composition. Three horseshoe bats overlap extensively in their distribution range in Europe: Rhinolophus euryale, R. hipposideros and R. ferrumequinum. In order to achieve the deepest insight on their prey list we combined two different primers. Results showed that the used primers were complementary at the order and species levels, only 22 out of 135 prey species being amplified by both. The most frequent prey of R. hipposideros belonged to Diptera and Lepidoptera, to Lepidoptera in R. euryale, and Lepidoptera, Diptera and Coleoptera in R. ferrumequinum. The three bats show significant resource partitioning, since their trophic niche overlap is not higher than 34%. Our results confirm the importance of combining complementary primers to describe the diet of generalist insectivorous bats with amplicon metabarcoding techniques. Overall, each primer set showed a subset of the prey composition, with a small portion of the total prey being identified by both of them. Therefore, each primer presented a different picture of the niche overlap among the three horseshoe bats due to their taxonomic affinity.

PubMed ID: 31339936
PMC ID: PMC6656351
Article link: PLoS One

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References [+] :
Aizpurua O, Agriculture shapes the trophic niche of a bat preying on multiple pest arthropods across Europe: Evidence from DNA metabarcoding. 2018, Pubmed