MtDNA metagenomics reveals large-scale invasion of belowground arthropod communities by introduced species

Francesco Cicconardi, Paulo A. V. Borges, Dominique Strasberg, Pedro Oromí, Heriberto López, Antonio J. Pérez-Delgado, Juliane Casquet, Juli Caujapé-Castells, José María Fernández-Palacios, Christophe Thébaud, Brent C. Emerson

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Using a series of standardised sampling plots within forest ecosystems in remote oceanic islands, we reveal fundamental differences between the structuring of aboveground and belowground arthropod biodiversity that are likely due to large-scale species introductions by humans. Species of beetle and spider were sampled almost exclusively from single islands, while soil dwelling Collembola exhibited more than tenfold higher species sharing among islands. Comparison of Collembola mitochondrial metagenomic data to a database of more than 80,000 Collembola barcode sequences revealed almost 30% of sampled island species are genetically identical, or near identical, to individuals sampled from often very distant geographic regions of the world. Patterns of mtDNA relatedness among Collembola implicate human-mediated species introductions, with minimum estimates for the proportion of introduced species on the sampled islands ranging from 45-88%. Our results call for more attention to soil mesofauna to understand the global extent and ecological consequences of species introductions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3104–3115
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number12
Early online date31 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • mesofauna
  • soil
  • introduced species
  • island biogeography
  • invertebrate

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