Using Next-Generation Sequencing to Contrast the Diet and Explore Pest-Reduction Services of Sympatric Bird Species in Macadamia Orchards in Australia
AuthorCrisol-Martinez, E; Moreno-Moyano, LT; Wormington, KR; Brown, PH; Stanley, D
Source TitlePLoS One
PublisherPublic Library of Science (PLoS)
University of Melbourne Author/sMORENO MOYANO, LAURA
AffiliationSchool of BioSciences
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsCrisol-Martinez, E., Moreno-Moyano, L. T., Wormington, K. R., Brown, P. H. & Stanley, D. (2016). Using Next-Generation Sequencing to Contrast the Diet and Explore Pest-Reduction Services of Sympatric Bird Species in Macadamia Orchards in Australia. PLoS One, 11 (3), https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0150159.
Access StatusOpen Access
Worldwide, avian communities inhabiting agro-ecosystems are threatened as a consequence of agricultural intensification. Unravelling their ecological role is essential to focus conservation efforts. Dietary analysis can elucidate bird-insect interactions and expose avian pest-reduction services, thus supporting avian conservation. In this study, we used next-generation sequencing to analyse the dietary arthropod contents of 11 sympatric bird species foraging in macadamia orchards in eastern Australia. Across all species and based on arthropod DNA sequence similarities ≥98% with records in the Barcode of Life Database, 257 operational taxonomy units were assigned to 8 orders, 40 families, 90 genera and 89 species. These taxa included 15 insect pests, 5 of which were macadamia pests. Among the latter group, Nezara viridula (Pentatomidae; green vegetable bug), considered a major pest, was present in 23% of all faecal samples collected. Results also showed that resource partitioning in this system is low, as most bird species shared large proportion of their diets by feeding primarily on lepidopteran, dipteran and arachnids. Dietary composition differed between some species, most likely because of differences in foraging behaviour. Overall, this study reached a level of taxonomic resolution never achieved before in the studied species, thus contributing to a significant improvement in the avian ecological knowledge. Our results showed that bird communities prey upon economically important pests in macadamia orchards. This study set a precedent by exploring avian pest-reduction services using next-generation sequencing, which could contribute to the conservation of avian communities and their natural habitats in agricultural systems.
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