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Article

Habitat Elevation Shapes Microbial Community Composition and Alter the Metabolic Functions in Wild Sable (Martes zibellina) Guts

1
School of Agriculture and Biology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Dongchuan Road 800, Shanghai 200240, China
2
Instrumental Analysis Center, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Dongchuan Road 800, Shanghai 200240, China
3
Institute of Wild Animals, Heilongjiang Academy of Forestry, Haping Road 134, Harbin 150081, China
4
College of Wildlife and Protected Area, Northeast Forestry University, Hexing Road 26, Harbin 150040, China
5
Faculty of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Helsinki, Niemenkatu 73, 15140 Lahti, Finland
6
Shanghai Yangtze River Delta Eco-Environmental Change and Management Observation and Research Station, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Education, 800 Dongchuan Rd, Shanghai 200240, China
7
Shanghai Urban Forest Ecosystem Research Station, National Forestry and Grassland Administration, 800 Dongchuan Rd., Shanghai 200240, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contribute equally to the manuscript.
Academic Editor: Robert Li
Animals 2021, 11(3), 865; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030865
Received: 18 February 2021 / Revised: 10 March 2021 / Accepted: 14 March 2021 / Published: 18 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Wildlife)
Environmental changes of habitat shaped the sable (Carnivora Mustelidae Martes zibellina) gut microbial community structure and altered the functions of gut microbiota, showing that the wild sable gut microbial community diversity was resilient and responded to environment change. Elevated habitat is a pivotal factor for wild sable survival and reproduction, and the adaptability is in part enabled through their gut microbial communities. Our observations show that despite having been forced to migrate from low altitudes to high altitudes because of anthropogenic habitat encroachment, wild sables showed robustness in adapting to harsh conditions. Additionally, we propose that the crucial factor enabling wild sables to survive in changeable environments was their gut microbial communities. It is widely understood that harsh conditions, such as high altitude and low temperature environments, have an adverse effect on wild fauna survival. However, our results suggested that increasing altitude can enhance some functions in wild sable gut microbial communities.
In recent decades, wild sable (Carnivora Mustelidae Martes zibellina) habitats, which are often natural forests, have been squeezed by anthropogenic disturbances such as clear-cutting, tilling and grazing. Sables tend to live in sloped areas with relatively harsh conditions. Here, we determine effects of environmental factors on wild sable gut microbial communities between high and low altitude habitats using Illumina Miseq sequencing of bacterial 16S rRNA genes. Our results showed that despite wild sable gut microbial community diversity being resilient to many environmental factors, community composition was sensitive to altitude. Wild sable gut microbial communities were dominated by Firmicutes (relative abundance 38.23%), followed by Actinobacteria (30.29%), and Proteobacteria (28.15%). Altitude was negatively correlated with the abundance of Firmicutes, suggesting sable likely consume more vegetarian food in lower habitats where plant diversity, temperature and vegetation coverage were greater. In addition, our functional genes prediction and qPCR results demonstrated that energy/fat processing microorganisms and functional genes are enriched with increasing altitude, which likely enhanced metabolic functions and supported wild sables to survive in elevated habitats. Overall, our results improve the knowledge of the ecological impact of habitat change, providing insights into wild animal protection at the mountain area with hash climate conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: Martes zibellina; gut microbial community; 16S rRNA gene; habitat environment; altitude changes Martes zibellina; gut microbial community; 16S rRNA gene; habitat environment; altitude changes
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MDPI and ACS Style

Su, L.; Liu, X.; Jin, G.; Ma, Y.; Tan, H.; Khalid, M.; Romantschuk, M.; Yin, S.; Hui, N. Habitat Elevation Shapes Microbial Community Composition and Alter the Metabolic Functions in Wild Sable (Martes zibellina) Guts. Animals 2021, 11, 865. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030865

AMA Style

Su L, Liu X, Jin G, Ma Y, Tan H, Khalid M, Romantschuk M, Yin S, Hui N. Habitat Elevation Shapes Microbial Community Composition and Alter the Metabolic Functions in Wild Sable (Martes zibellina) Guts. Animals. 2021; 11(3):865. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030865

Chicago/Turabian Style

Su, Lantian, Xinxin Liu, Guangyao Jin, Yue Ma, Haoxin Tan, Muhammed Khalid, Martin Romantschuk, Shan Yin, and Nan Hui. 2021. "Habitat Elevation Shapes Microbial Community Composition and Alter the Metabolic Functions in Wild Sable (Martes zibellina) Guts" Animals 11, no. 3: 865. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030865

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