Diversity2016, 8(1), 3; doi:10.3390/d8010003 - published 12 January 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Camera-traps are increasingly used to estimate wildlife abundance, yet few studies exist for small-sized carnivores or comparing efficacy against traditional methods. We developed a camera-trap to identify the unique ventral patches of American martens (Martes americana). Our method was designed to: (1) determine the optimal trap configuration to photograph ventral patches; (2) evaluate the use of temporally clustered photographs to determine independence and improve identification; and (3) determine factors that influence identification probability. We tested our method by comparing camera- and live-trap density estimates using spatial capture–recapture (SCR) models. The ventral patches of radio-collared martens were most visible when traps were placed 15–20 cm above a feeding platform. Radio-collared martens (n = 14) visited camera-traps for long periods (median = 7 min) with long intervals between visits (median = 419 min), and visits by different martens at the same trap <15 min apart was infrequent (n = 3) during both years. Similarly, there was complete agreement among observers that clustered photos of un-collared martens were always of the same individual. Pairwise agreement was high between observers; eight un-collared martens were identifiable by consensus on 90% (54 of 60) of recorded visits. Factors influencing identification probability were directly related to the time martens spent feeding at traps (β = 0.143, P = 0.01) and inversely proportional to the time that elapsed since traps were baited (β = −0.344, P = 0.006). Density estimates were higher and more precise for camera-trapping (0.60, 0.35–1.01 martens/km2) than live-trapping (0.45, 0.16–1.22 martens/km2), providing evidence that SCR density estimates may be biased when capture heterogeneity is present, yet cannot be accounted for due to small sample size. Our camera-trap method provides a minimally invasive and accurate tool for monitoring marten populations.
Diversity2016, 8(1), 1; doi:10.3390/d8010001 - published 29 December 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Using high-throughput sequencing approaches to quantify biodiversity has a number of hurdles, in particular that the number of reads for a given taxon may not be proportional to the number of individuals of that taxon in a sample. Here, we consider whether summary statistics generated in the course of population genetic analyses (such as estimates of haplotype diversity and mutation rate) may be useful in reverse inference of the number of individuals input to an assay. Although our results show that these statistics—combined with the observed number of segregating sites and number of haplotypes in the assay—may be informative, there remain significant concerns about the ability to “metabarcode” a sample and infer relative species abundance.
Diversity2016, 8(1), 2; doi:10.3390/d8010002 - published 29 December 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: DNA barcoding is a molecular technology that allows the identification of any biological species by amplifying, sequencing and querying the information from genic and/or intergenic standardized target regions belonging to the extranuclear genomes. Although these sequences represent a small fraction of the total DNA of a cell, both chloroplast and mitochondrial barcodes chosen for identifying plant and animal species, respectively, have shown sufficient nucleotide diversity to assess the taxonomic identity of the vast majority of organisms used in agriculture. Consequently, cpDNA and mtDNA barcoding protocols are being used more and more in the food industry and food supply chains for food labeling, not only to support food safety but also to uncover food piracy in freshly commercialized and technologically processed products. Since the extranuclear genomes are present in many copies within each cell, this technology is being more easily exploited to recover information even in degraded samples or transformed materials deriving from crop varieties and livestock species. The strong standardization that characterizes protocols used worldwide for DNA barcoding makes this technology particularly suitable for routine analyses required by agencies to safeguard food safety and quality. Here we conduct a critical review of the potentials of DNA barcoding for food labeling along with the main findings in the area of food piracy, with particular reference to agrifood and livestock foodstuffs.
Diversity2015, 7(4), 385-396; doi:10.3390/d7040385 - published 16 November 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: We herein present FactorsR, an RWizard application which provides tools for the identification of the most likely causal factors significantly correlated with species richness, and for depicting on a map the species richness predicted by a Support Vector Machine (SVM) model. As a demonstration of FactorsR, we used an assessment using a database incorporating all species of terrestrial carnivores, a total of 249 species, distributed across 12 families. The model performed with SVM explained 91.9% of the variance observed in the species richness of terrestrial carnivores. Species richness was higher in areas with both higher vegetation index and patch index, i.e., containing higher numbers of species whose range distribution is less fragmented. Lower species richness than expected was observed in Chile, Madagascar, Sumatra, Taiwan, and Sulawesi.
Diversity2015, 7(4), 360-384; doi:10.3390/d7040360 - published 3 November 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Using biological fertilizers and pesticides based on beneficial soil microbes in order to reduce mineral fertilizers and chemical pesticides in conventional agriculture is still a matter of debate. In this regard, a European research project seeks to elucidate the role of root-endophytic fungi and to develop molecular tools to trace and quantify these fungi in the rhizosphere and root tissue. To do this, the draft genome sequence of the biocontrol fungus Trichoderma virens (T. virens) was screened for simple sequence repeats (SSRs) and primers were developed for 12 distinct loci. Primers were evaluated using a global collection of ten isolates where an average of 7.42 alleles per locus was detected. Nei’s standard genetic distance ranged from 0.18 to 0.27 among the isolates, and the grand mean of haploid diversity in AMOVA analysis was 0.693 ± 0.019. Roots of tomato plants were inoculated with different strains and harvested six weeks later. Subsequent PCR amplification identified root-endophytic strains and co-colonization of roots by different strains. Markers were applied to qPCR to quantify T. virens strains in root tissue and to determine their identity using allele-specific melting curve analysis. Thus, the root-endophytic lifestyle of T. virens was confirmed, strains in roots were quantified and simultaneous colonization of roots by different strains was observed.