DNA METABARCODING METHODS TO ELUCIDATE TROPHIC INTERACTIONS OF SALT MARSH HARVEST MOUSE, AND APPLICATIONS TO OTHER SMALL MAMMAL STUDIES.
Cody M. Aylward; University of California, Davis; One Shields Ave, Davis, CA, 95616; cmaylward@ucdavis.edu; Leila S. Harris, Douglas A. Kelt, J. Mark Statham
Understanding species' dietary niches can be a critical component of wildlife conservation and management. DNA metabarcoding uses next generation sequencing techniques to match millions of DNA sequences amplified from scat to a database of genetic data from potential prey items. These data can be used to draw inferences about community food webs. Competition with sympatric species is a key research priority for the endangered San Francisco Bay endemic, salt marsh harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys raviventris). Recent foraging data suggest salt marsh harvest mouse may have a more diverse diet than previously believed, and the role of invertebrate prey is largely unknown. Data collection is underway for a preliminary analysis of dietary overlap between salt marsh harvest mouse and sympatric competitors, western harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis) and house mouse (Mus musculus). To evaluate the capacity of this technique to identify invertebrate prey items and inform sister studies, bat guano was collected during bat foraging surveys from 2015-2018, and from the Yolo Causeway colony of Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis), potentially the largest such colony in California. Dietary data will be used to explore the role of these bats as a potential control on agricultural pests in the Central Valley. Preliminary data from these pilot studies (anticipated December 2018) may be used to inform impact assessments and management strategies.
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