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Environmental DNA (eDNA) and invertebrate-derived DNA (iDNA) have been increasingly recognized as powerful tools for biodiversity assessment and conservation management. However, eDNA/iDNA efficiency for vertebrate diversity assessment remains uncertain, and comparisons to conventional methods are still rare. Through a meta-analysis of previously published vertebrate diversity surveys, we compared the efficiency of eDNA/iDNA against conventional methods across several types of samplers, vertebrate groups, and locations (tropical vs. temperate zones). We also assess eDNA/iDNA efficiency to estimate relative abundance or biomass over different molecular methods (qPCR and metabarcoding) and type of experiment (in the laboratory or in the field). We showed that for water sampler, fish as a target species, and studies achieved in temperate zones, eDNA presents lower risk of not detecting a species or a site with a target species than conventional methods. These results show that eDNA is an efficient tool to assess fish diversity. Moreover, eDNA data presents positive correlation with fish abundance or biomass. However, such correlation was higher in laboratory experiments than in the field. For the other samplers, vertebrate groups, and in tropical zones we were not able to draw general conclusion, highlighting the urgency of conducting more comparative studies. © 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Carolina S Carvalho, Marina Elisa de Oliveira, Karen Giselle Rodriguez-Castro, Bruno H Saranholi, Pedro M Galetti. Efficiency of eDNA and iDNA in assessing vertebrate diversity and its abundance. Molecular ecology resources. 2022 May;22(4):1262-1273

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PMID: 34724330

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