Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Using DNA metabarcoding to investigate diet and niche partitioning in the native European otter (Lutra lutra) and invasive American mink (Neovison vison)

Harper, Lynsey R; Watson, Hayley V; Donnelly, Robert; Hampshire, Richard; Sayer, Carl D; Breithaupt, Thomas; Hänfling, Bernd

Authors

Lynsey R Harper

Hayley V Watson

Robert Donnelly

Richard Hampshire

Carl D Sayer

Bernd Hänfling



Abstract

In the UK, the native European otter (Lutra lutra) and invasive American mink (Neovison vison) have experienced concurrent declines and expansions. Currently, the otter is recovering from persecution and waterway pollution, whereas the mink is in decline due to population control and probable interspecific interaction with the otter. We explored the potential of DNA metabarcoding for investigating diet and niche partitioning between these mustelids. Otter spraints (n = 171) and mink scats (n = 19) collected from three sites (Malham Tarn, River Hull and River Glaven) in northern and eastern England were screened for vertebrates using high-throughput sequencing. Otter diet mainly comprised aquatic fishes (81.0%) and amphibians (12.7%), whereas mink diet predominantly consisted of terrestrial birds (55.9%) and mammals (39.6%). The mink used a lower proportion (20%) of available prey (n = 40 taxa) than the otter and low niche overlap (0.267) was observed between these mustelids. Prey taxon richness of mink scats was lower than otter spraints and beta diversity of prey communities was driven by taxon turnover (i.e. the otter and mink consumed different prey taxa). Considering otter diet only, prey taxon richness was higher in spraints from the River Hull catchment and beta diversity of prey communities was driven by taxon turnover (i.e. the otter consumed different prey taxa at each site). Studies using morphological faecal analysis may misidentify the predator as well as prey items. Faecal DNA metabarcoding can resolve these issues and provide more accurate and detailed dietary information. When scaled up across multiple habitat types, DNA metabarcoding should greatly improve future understanding of resource use and niche overlap between the otter and mink.

Citation

Harper, L. R., Watson, H. V., Donnelly, R., Hampshire, R., Sayer, C. D., Breithaupt, T., & Hänfling, B. (in press). Using DNA metabarcoding to investigate diet and niche partitioning in the native European otter (Lutra lutra) and invasive American mink (Neovison vison). Metabarcoding and Metagenomics, 4, https://doi.org/10.3897/mbmg.4.56087

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 13, 2020
Online Publication Date Nov 26, 2020
Deposit Date Apr 14, 2021
Publicly Available Date Sep 3, 2021
Journal Metabarcoding and Metagenomics
Print ISSN 2534-9708
Publisher Pensoft Publishers
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 4
Article Number e56087
DOI https://doi.org/10.3897/mbmg.4.56087
Keywords Carnivore; Faecal DNA; High-throughput sequencing; Mustelid; Predator-prey interactions; Scats; Spraints; Trophic ecology
Public URL https://hull-repository.worktribe.com/output/3647684

Files

Published article (4.2 Mb)
PDF

Publisher Licence URL
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Copyright Statement
Copyright Lynsey R. Harper et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.





You might also like



Downloadable Citations