Food Web Analysis of Hawai‘i Island’s Blackburnia hawaiiensis (Coleoptera: Carabidae) Using Next-generation Sequencing and Stable Isotope Techniques

Date
2015
Authors
Roy, Kylle
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Price, Donald K.
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Tropical Conservation Biology & Environmental Science
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Tropical montane forests are valuable ecosystems in Hawai‘i, providing fresh water to the people of the islands as well as acting as reservoirs of biodiversity. These forests are experiencing rapid alterations due to anthropogenic effects such as climate change, habitat degradation, invasive species, and industrialization. Some of the detrimental effects caused by these ecosystem alterations can be mitigated through understanding the genetics and ecology of the organisms within it. Despite the importance of these arthropod-dominated ecosystems, knowledge of food webs and predator-prey interactions is sparse. In order to supplement the understanding of Hawai‘i’s montane forest ecosystems, we have implemented two different methods of diet analysis on the endemic Hawaiian carabid beetle, Blackburnia hawaiiensis. This understudied carabid may provide important ecosystem functions, being a numerically dominant predatory insect and widely distributed throughout Hawai‘i Island. B. hawaiiensis populations and potential prey in similar, highly isolated geographic locations were used to employ two different yet complimentary laboratory techniques: natural abundance stable isotope analysis (SIA) and metagenomics of gut contents using next-generation sequencing (NGS). Both NGS and SIA have revealed B. hawaiiensis to be a high trophic consumer with evidence of intraguild predation in three study sites: Ka‘iholena, Thurston, and Pu‘u Maka‘ala. In a broader context, the combined SIA and NGS techniques have great potential to further our understanding of the arthropod food webs of the montane forests of Hawai‘i Island, ultimately improving conservation efforts for the entire arthropod community. These two methods in combination could potentially be implemented in any ecosystem globally to better determine the diets of species within complex food webs, enhancing ecosystem management strategies.
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Ecology, Entomology, Genetics, B. hawaiiensis, carabid, diet analysis, metagenomics, next-generation sequencing, stable isotopes
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81 pages
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