Using metabarcoding to ask if easily collected soil and leaf-litter samples can be used as a general biodiversity indicator

Yang, Chenxue, Wang, Xiaoyang, Miller, Jeremy A., de Blécourt, Marleen, Ji, Yinqiu, Yang, Chunyan, Harrison, Rhett D. and Yu, Douglas W. (2014) Using metabarcoding to ask if easily collected soil and leaf-litter samples can be used as a general biodiversity indicator. Ecological Indicators, 46. pp. 379-389. ISSN 1470-160X

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The targeted sequencing of taxonomically informative genetic markers, sometimes known as metabarcoding, allows eukaryote biodiversity to be measured rapidly, cheaply, comprehensively, repeatedly, and verifiably. Metabarcoding helps to remove the taxonomic impediment, which refers to the great logistical difficulties of describing and identifying species, and thus promises to improve our ability to detect and respond to changes in the natural environment. Now, sampling has become a rate-limiting step in biodiversity measurement, and in an effort to reduce turnaround time, we use arthropod samples from southern China and Vietnam to ask whether soil, leaf litter, and aboveground samples provide similar ecological information. A soil or leaf-litter sample can be collected in minutes, whereas an aboveground sample, such as from Malaise traps or canopy fogging, can require days to set up and run, during which time they are subject to theft, damage, and deliberate contamination. Here we show that while the taxonomic compositions of soil and leaf-litter samples are very different from aboveground samples, both types of samples provide similar ecological information, in terms of ranking sites by species richness and differentiating sites by beta diversity. In fact, leaf-litter samples appear to be as or more powerful than Malaise-trap and canopy-fogging samples at detecting habitat differences. We propose that metabarcoded leaf-litter and soil samples be widely tested as a candidate method for rapid environmental monitoring in terrestrial ecosystems.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
Uncontrolled Keywords: soil fauna,leaf litter,dna barcoding,biodiversity,restoration ecology,climate change,metabarcoding,tropical forest,systematic conservation planning,surveillance monitoring,targeted monitoring,sdg 13 - climate action,sdg 15 - life on land ,/dk/atira/pure/sustainabledevelopmentgoals/climate_action
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2014 12:28
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2022 00:06
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2014.06.028

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