Environmental DNA illuminates the dark diversity of sharks

Boussarie, Germain, Bakker, Judith, Wangensteen, Owen S., Mariani, Stefano, Bonnin, Lucas, Juhel, Jean-Baptiste, Kiszka, Jeremy J., Kulbicki, Michel, Manel, Stephanie, Robbins, William D., Vigliola, Laurent, and Mouillot, David (2018) Environmental DNA illuminates the dark diversity of sharks. Science Advances, 4 (5). eaap9661.

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Abstract

In the era of "Anthropocene defaunation," large species are often no longer detected in habitats where they formerly occurred. However, it is unclear whether this apparent missing, or "dark," diversity of megafauna results from local species extirpations or from failure to detect elusive remaining individuals. We find that despite two orders of magnitude less sampling effort, environmental DNA (eDNA) detects 44% more shark species than traditional underwater visual censuses and baited videos across the New Caledonian archipelago (south-western Pacific). Furthermore, eDNA analysis reveals the presence of previously unobserved shark species in human-impacted areas. Overall, our results highlight a greater prevalence of sharks than described by traditional survey methods in both impacted and wilderness areas. This indicates an urgent need for large-scale eDNA assessments to improve monitoring of threatened and elusive megafauna. Finally, our findings emphasize the need for conservation efforts specifically geared toward the protection of elusive, residual populations.

Item ID: 53884
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2375-2548
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2018 he Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License 4.0 (CC BY-NC).
Funders: Total Foundation, Pew Charitable Trust, Government of New Caledonia, University of Salford
Projects and Grants: Pristine, APEX and e(lasmo)DNA projects
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2018 07:45
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
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