Invertebrates for vertebrate biodiversity monitoring: Comparisons using three insect taxa as iDNA samplers

Aimee L. Massey, Roberta Vieira de Morais Bronzoni, David José Ferreira da Silva, Jennifer M. Allen, Patrick Ricardo de Lázari, Manoel dos Santos Filho, Gustavo Rodrigues Canale, Christine Steiner São Bernardo, Carlos Augusto Peres, Taal Levi

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17 Citations (Scopus)
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Metabarcoding of environmental DNA (eDNA) is now widely used to build diversity profiles from DNA that has been shed by species into the environment. There is substantial interest in the expansion of eDNA approaches for improved detection of terrestrial vertebrates using invertebrate-derived DNA (iDNA) in which hematophagous, sarcophagous, and coprophagous invertebrates sample vertebrate blood, carrion, or faeces. Here, we used metabarcoding and multiple iDNA samplers (carrion flies, sandflies, and mosquitos) collected from 39 forested sites in the southern Amazon to profile gamma and alpha diversity. Our main objectives were to (1) compare diversity found with iDNA to camera trapping, which is the conventional method of vertebrate diversity surveillance; and (2) compare each of the iDNA samplers to assess the effectiveness, efficiency, and potential biases associated with each sampler. In total, we collected and analysed 1759 carrion flies, 48,686 sandflies, and 4776 mosquitos. Carrion flies revealed the greatest total vertebrate species richness at the landscape level, despite the least amount of sampling effort and the fewest number of individuals captured for metabarcoding, followed by sandflies. Camera traps had the highest median species richness at the site-level but showed strong bias towards carnivore and ungulate species and missed much of the diversity described by iDNA methods. Mosquitos showed a strong feeding preference for humans as did sandflies for armadillos, thus presenting potential utility to further study related to host-vector interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)962-977
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular Ecology Resources
Issue number3
Early online date3 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • biodiversity
  • camera traps
  • carrion flies
  • iDNA
  • metabarcoding
  • mosquitos
  • sandflies

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