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Ecological indices from environmental DNA to contrast coastal reefs under different anthropogenic pressures
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  • Andrea Polanco F.,
  • Conor Waldock,
  • Thomas Keggin,
  • Virginie Marques,
  • Romane Rozanski,
  • Alice Valentini,
  • Tony Dejean,
  • Stephanie Manel,
  • Mark Vermeij,
  • Camille Albouy,
  • Loïc Pellissier
Andrea Polanco F.
Beauval Nature association

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Conor Waldock
ETH Zurich
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Thomas Keggin
ETH Zürich
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Virginie Marques
University of Montpellier
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Romane Rozanski
Ifremer Département Ressources Biologiques et Environnement
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Alice Valentini
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Tony Dejean
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Stephanie Manel
Universite de Montpellier
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Mark Vermeij
CARMABI Research Station
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Camille Albouy
DECOD (Ecosystem Dynamics and Sustainability), IFREMER, INRAE
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Loïc Pellissier
ETH Zurich
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Human activities can degrade the quality of coral reefs, cause a decline in fish species richness and functional diversity and an erosion of the ecosystem services provided. Environmental DNA metabarcoding (eDNA) has been proposed as an alternative to Underwater Visual Census (UVC) to offer more rapid assessment of marine biodiversity to meet management demands for ecosystem health indices. Taxonomic information derived from sequenced eDNA can be combined with functional traits and phylogenetic positions to generate a variety of ecological indices describing ecosystem functioning. Here, we inventoried reef fish assemblages of two contrasted coastal areas of Curaçao, (i) in close proximity to the island’s capital city and (ii) in a more remote area under more limited anthropogenic pressure. We sampled eDNA by filtering large volumes of sea water (2 x 30L) along 2km boat transects, which we coupled with species ecological properties related to habitat use, trophic level and body size to investigate the difference in fish taxonomic composition, functional and phylogenetic indices recovered from eDNA metabarcoding between these two distinct coastal areas. Despite no marked difference in species richness, we found a higher phylogenetic diversity in proximity to the city, but a higher functional diversity on the more isolated reef. Composition differences between coastal areas were associated with different frequencies of reef fish families. Because of a partial reference database, eDNA only partly matched those detected with UVC, but eDNA surveys nevertheless provided rapid and robust species occupancy responses to contrasted environments. eDNA metabarcoding coupled with functional and phylogenetic diversity assessment can serve the management of coastal habitats under increasing threat from global changes.
01 Feb 2022Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
01 Feb 2022Submission Checks Completed
01 Feb 2022Assigned to Editor
03 Feb 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
02 Mar 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
03 Mar 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
05 Jul 20221st Revision Received
05 Jul 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
05 Jul 2022Submission Checks Completed
05 Jul 2022Assigned to Editor
07 Jul 2022Editorial Decision: Accept