Assessing different components of biodiversity across a river network using eDNA

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Elvira MächlerFlorian Altermatt


Assessing individual components of biodiversity, such as local or regional taxon richness, and differences in community composition is a long-standing challenge in ecology. It is especially relevant in spatially structured and diverse ecosystems. Environmental DNA (eDNA) has been suggested as a novel technique to accurately measure biodiversity. However, we do not yet fully understand the comparability of eDNA-based assessments to previously used approaches. We sampled may-, stone-, and caddisfly genera with contemporary eDNA and kicknet methods at 61 sites distributed over a large river network, allowing a comparison of various diversity measures from the catchment to site levels and providing insights into how these measures relate to network properties. We extended our survey data with historical records of total diversity at the catchment level. At the catchment scale, eDNA and kicknet detected similar proportions of the overall and cumulative historically documented species richness (gamma diversity), namely 42% and 46%, respectively. We further found a good overlap (62%) between the two contemporary methods at the regional scale. At the local scale, we found highly congruent values of local taxon richness (alpha diversity...Continue Reading

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