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MtDNA metagenomics reveals large-scale invasion of belowground arthropod communities by introduced species [Molecular Ecology]

Christophe Thébaud

par Frédéric Magné - publié le

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.

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