Using DNA metabarcoding to detect burrowing seabirds in a remote landscape

Date: 18, May, 2021
Author(s):   McInnes, J.C., Bird, J.P., Deagle, B.E., Polanowski, A.E., Shaw, J.D.
Publisher: Conservation Science and Practice

Species inventories and biodiversity assessments are critical to conservation. Yet cryptic species or recolonizing species can be challenging to detect. DNA metabarcoding provides an alternative tool to identify species that can be difficult to observe during field surveys. We test the efficacy of DNA analysis to identify burrowing petrel species in a rapidly changing landscape, on a remote sub-Antarctic island following pest eradication. Discarded feathers and scats provided high quality DNA for species identification, assisting in detection of new species arrivals and new breeding sites across Macquarie Island. We highlight how DNA metabarcoding informs species inventories and is a valuable tool to complement seabird field surveys.