From feces to data: A metabarcoding method for analyzing consumed and available prey in a bird-insect food web

Seppo Rytkönen, Eero J. Vesterinen, Coen Westerduin, Tiina Leviäkangas, Emma Vatka, Marko Mutanen, Panu Välimäki, Markku Hukkanen, Marko Suokas, Markku Orell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Diets play a key role in understanding trophic interactions. Knowing the actual structure of food webs contributes greatly to our understanding of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. The research of prey preferences of different predators requires knowledge not only of the prey consumed, but also of what is available. In this study, we applied DNA metabarcoding to analyze the diet of 4 bird species (willow tits Poecile montanus, Siberian tits Poecile cinctus, great tits Parus major and blue tits Cyanistes caeruleus) by using the feces of nestlings. The availability of their assumed prey (Lepidoptera) was determined from feces of larvae (frass) collected from the main foraging habitat, birch (Betula spp.) canopy. We identified 53 prey species from the nestling feces, of which 11 (21%) were also detected from the frass samples (eight lepidopterans). Approximately 80% of identified prey species in the nestling feces represented lepidopterans, which is in line with the earlier studies on the parids' diet. A subsequent laboratory experiment showed a threshold for fecal sample size and the barcoding success, suggesting that the smallest frass samples do not contain enough larval DNA to be detected by high-throughput sequencing. To summarize, we apply metabarcoding for the first time in a combined approach to identify available prey (through frass) and consumed prey (via nestling feces), expanding the scope and precision for future dietary studies on insectivorous birds.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEcology and Evolution
Volume9
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)631-639
Number of pages9
ISSN2045-7758
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • dietary ecology
  • DNA barcoding
  • fecal DNA
  • frass
  • insectivorous birds
  • Lepidoptera
  • metagenomics
  • TITS PARUS-MAJOR
  • SIZE
  • BARCODE
  • PREDATOR
  • ARTHROPODS
  • GREAT TITS
  • DNA
  • SELECTION
  • BROOD
  • LIFE
  • 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology

Cite this

Rytkönen, Seppo ; Vesterinen, Eero J. ; Westerduin, Coen ; Leviäkangas, Tiina ; Vatka, Emma ; Mutanen, Marko ; Välimäki, Panu ; Hukkanen, Markku ; Suokas, Marko ; Orell, Markku. / From feces to data : A metabarcoding method for analyzing consumed and available prey in a bird-insect food web. In: Ecology and Evolution. 2019 ; Vol. 9, No. 1. pp. 631-639.
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title = "From feces to data: A metabarcoding method for analyzing consumed and available prey in a bird-insect food web",
abstract = "Diets play a key role in understanding trophic interactions. Knowing the actual structure of food webs contributes greatly to our understanding of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. The research of prey preferences of different predators requires knowledge not only of the prey consumed, but also of what is available. In this study, we applied DNA metabarcoding to analyze the diet of 4 bird species (willow tits Poecile montanus, Siberian tits Poecile cinctus, great tits Parus major and blue tits Cyanistes caeruleus) by using the feces of nestlings. The availability of their assumed prey (Lepidoptera) was determined from feces of larvae (frass) collected from the main foraging habitat, birch (Betula spp.) canopy. We identified 53 prey species from the nestling feces, of which 11 (21{\%}) were also detected from the frass samples (eight lepidopterans). Approximately 80{\%} of identified prey species in the nestling feces represented lepidopterans, which is in line with the earlier studies on the parids' diet. A subsequent laboratory experiment showed a threshold for fecal sample size and the barcoding success, suggesting that the smallest frass samples do not contain enough larval DNA to be detected by high-throughput sequencing. To summarize, we apply metabarcoding for the first time in a combined approach to identify available prey (through frass) and consumed prey (via nestling feces), expanding the scope and precision for future dietary studies on insectivorous birds.",
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author = "Seppo Rytk{\"o}nen and Vesterinen, {Eero J.} and Coen Westerduin and Tiina Levi{\"a}kangas and Emma Vatka and Marko Mutanen and Panu V{\"a}lim{\"a}ki and Markku Hukkanen and Marko Suokas and Markku Orell",
year = "2019",
month = "1",
doi = "10.1002/ece3.4787",
language = "English",
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Rytkönen, S, Vesterinen, EJ, Westerduin, C, Leviäkangas, T, Vatka, E, Mutanen, M, Välimäki, P, Hukkanen, M, Suokas, M & Orell, M 2019, 'From feces to data: A metabarcoding method for analyzing consumed and available prey in a bird-insect food web' Ecology and Evolution, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 631-639. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.4787

From feces to data : A metabarcoding method for analyzing consumed and available prey in a bird-insect food web. / Rytkönen, Seppo; Vesterinen, Eero J.; Westerduin, Coen; Leviäkangas, Tiina; Vatka, Emma; Mutanen, Marko; Välimäki, Panu; Hukkanen, Markku; Suokas, Marko; Orell, Markku.

In: Ecology and Evolution, Vol. 9, No. 1, 01.2019, p. 631-639.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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T1 - From feces to data

T2 - A metabarcoding method for analyzing consumed and available prey in a bird-insect food web

AU - Rytkönen, Seppo

AU - Vesterinen, Eero J.

AU - Westerduin, Coen

AU - Leviäkangas, Tiina

AU - Vatka, Emma

AU - Mutanen, Marko

AU - Välimäki, Panu

AU - Hukkanen, Markku

AU - Suokas, Marko

AU - Orell, Markku

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N2 - Diets play a key role in understanding trophic interactions. Knowing the actual structure of food webs contributes greatly to our understanding of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. The research of prey preferences of different predators requires knowledge not only of the prey consumed, but also of what is available. In this study, we applied DNA metabarcoding to analyze the diet of 4 bird species (willow tits Poecile montanus, Siberian tits Poecile cinctus, great tits Parus major and blue tits Cyanistes caeruleus) by using the feces of nestlings. The availability of their assumed prey (Lepidoptera) was determined from feces of larvae (frass) collected from the main foraging habitat, birch (Betula spp.) canopy. We identified 53 prey species from the nestling feces, of which 11 (21%) were also detected from the frass samples (eight lepidopterans). Approximately 80% of identified prey species in the nestling feces represented lepidopterans, which is in line with the earlier studies on the parids' diet. A subsequent laboratory experiment showed a threshold for fecal sample size and the barcoding success, suggesting that the smallest frass samples do not contain enough larval DNA to be detected by high-throughput sequencing. To summarize, we apply metabarcoding for the first time in a combined approach to identify available prey (through frass) and consumed prey (via nestling feces), expanding the scope and precision for future dietary studies on insectivorous birds.

AB - Diets play a key role in understanding trophic interactions. Knowing the actual structure of food webs contributes greatly to our understanding of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. The research of prey preferences of different predators requires knowledge not only of the prey consumed, but also of what is available. In this study, we applied DNA metabarcoding to analyze the diet of 4 bird species (willow tits Poecile montanus, Siberian tits Poecile cinctus, great tits Parus major and blue tits Cyanistes caeruleus) by using the feces of nestlings. The availability of their assumed prey (Lepidoptera) was determined from feces of larvae (frass) collected from the main foraging habitat, birch (Betula spp.) canopy. We identified 53 prey species from the nestling feces, of which 11 (21%) were also detected from the frass samples (eight lepidopterans). Approximately 80% of identified prey species in the nestling feces represented lepidopterans, which is in line with the earlier studies on the parids' diet. A subsequent laboratory experiment showed a threshold for fecal sample size and the barcoding success, suggesting that the smallest frass samples do not contain enough larval DNA to be detected by high-throughput sequencing. To summarize, we apply metabarcoding for the first time in a combined approach to identify available prey (through frass) and consumed prey (via nestling feces), expanding the scope and precision for future dietary studies on insectivorous birds.

KW - dietary ecology

KW - DNA barcoding

KW - fecal DNA

KW - frass

KW - insectivorous birds

KW - Lepidoptera

KW - metagenomics

KW - TITS PARUS-MAJOR

KW - SIZE

KW - BARCODE

KW - PREDATOR

KW - ARTHROPODS

KW - GREAT TITS

KW - DNA

KW - SELECTION

KW - BROOD

KW - LIFE

KW - 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology

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DO - 10.1002/ece3.4787

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JO - Ecology and Evolution

JF - Ecology and Evolution

SN - 2045-7758

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