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Terrestrial mammal surveillance using hybridization capture of environmental DNA from African waterholes

Authors

  • P.A. Seeber
  • G.K. McEwen
  • U. Löber
  • D.W. Förster
  • M.L. East
  • J. Melzheimer
  • A.D. Greenwood

Journal

  • Molecular Ecology Resources

Citation

  • Mol Ecol Resour

Abstract

  • Determining species distributions can be extremely challenging but is crucial to ecological and conservation research. Environmental DNA (eDNA) approaches have shown particular promise in aquatic systems for several vertebrate and invertebrate species. For terrestrial animals, however, eDNA-based surveys are considerably more difficult due to the lack of or difficulty in obtaining appropriate sampling substrate. In water-limited ecosystem where terrestrial mammals are often forced to congregate at waterholes, water and sediment from shared water sources may be a suitable substrate for non-invasive eDNA approaches. We characterized mitochondrial DNA sequences from a broad range of terrestrial mammal species in two different African ecosystems (in Namibia and Tanzania) using eDNA isolated from native water, sediment, and water filtered through glass fiber filters. A hybridization capture enrichment with RNA probes targeting the mitochondrial genomes of 38 mammal species representing the genera/families expected at the respective ecosystems was employed, and 16 species were identified, with a maximum mitogenome coverage of 99.8%. Conventional genus-specific PCRs were tested on environmental samples for two genera produced fewer positive results than hybridization capture enrichment. An experiment with mock samples using DNA from non-African mammals showed that baits covering 30% of non-target mitogenomes produced 91% mitogenome coverage after capture. In the mock samples, over-representation of DNA of one species still allowed for the detection of DNA of other species that was at a 100-fold lower concentration. Hybridization capture enrichment of eDNA is therefore an effective method for monitoring terrestrial mammal species from shared water sources.


DOI

doi:10.1111/1755-0998.13069