University of Oulu

Morrill A, Kaunisto KM, Mlynarek JJ, Sippola E, Vesterinen EJ, Forbes MR. 2021. Metabarcoding prey DNA from fecal samples of adult dragonflies shows no predicted sex differences, and substantial inter-individual variation, in diets. PeerJ 9:e12634

Metabarcoding prey DNA from fecal samples of adult dragonflies shows no predicted sex differences, and substantial inter-individual variation, in diets

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Author: Morrill, André1; Kaunisto, Kari M.2; Mlynarek, Julia J.3;
Organizations: 1Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
2Biodiversity Unit, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
3Insectarium de Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
4Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
5Department of Biology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
6Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: PeerJ, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-02-18


Sexes often differ in foraging and diet, which is associated with sex differences in size, trophic morphology, use of habitats, and/or life history tactics. Herein, strikingly similar diets were found for adult sexes of a dragonfly (Leucorrhinia intacta), based on comparing 141 dietary taxa identified from the metabarcoding of mitochondrial DNA archived in feces. Arthropods in >5% of samples included five species of dipterans, two hemipterans, two spider species and one parasitic mite. The mite was not traditional prey as its presence was likely due to DNA contamination of samples arising through parasitism or possibly via accidental consumption during grooming, and therefore the mite was excluded from diet characterizations. Common prey species were found with statistically indistinguishable frequencies in male and female diets, with one exception of an aphid more often found in male diets, although this pattern was not robust to corrections for multiple statistical tests. While rare prey species were often found in diets of only one sex, instances of this were more frequent in the more oft-sampled females, suggesting sampling artefact. Sexes did not differ in the mean prey species richness in their diets. Overall, sexes showed statistically indistinguishable diets both on a prey species-by-species basis and in terms of multivariate characterizations of diet composition, derived from presence-absence data of prey species analyzed via PERMANOVA and accumulation curves. Males and females may have similar diets by being both opportunistic and generalist predators of arthropods, using the same foraging habitats and having similar sizes and flight agilities. Notably, similarities in diet between sexes occur alongside large interindividual differences in diet, within sexes. Researchers intending on explaining adaptive sex differences in diet should consider characteristics of species whose sexes show similar diets.

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Series: PeerJ
ISSN: 2167-8359
ISSN-E: 2167-8359
ISSN-L: 2167-8359
Volume: 9
Article number: e12634
DOI: 10.7717/peerj.12634
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
Funding: Funding was provided through a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) CGS-D scholarship to AM and a NSERC Discovery grant to MRF (grant no. 100118). KK was funded by the Sakari Alhopuro Foundation, Helsingin hyönteistieteellinen yhdistys (the Entomological Society of Helsinki), and the Academy of Finland. There was no additional external funding received for this study. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Copyright information: © 2021 Morrill et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.