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Dietary competition between the alien Asian Musk Shrew (Suncus murinus) and a re-introduced population of Telfair's Skink (Leiolopisma telfairii)

Brown, David Steven, Burger, Richard, Cole, N., Vencatasamy, D., Clare, E. L., Montazam, A. and Symondson, William Oliver Christian 2014. Dietary competition between the alien Asian Musk Shrew (Suncus murinus) and a re-introduced population of Telfair's Skink (Leiolopisma telfairii). Molecular Ecology 23 (15) , pp. 3695-3705. 10.1111/mec.12445

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Abstract

Re-introduction of rare species to parts of their historical range is becoming increasingly important as a conservation strategy. Telfair's Skinks (Leiolopisma telfairii), once widespread on Mauritius, were until recently found only on Round Island. There it is vulnerable to stochastic events, including the introduction of alien predators that may either prey upon it or compete for food resources. Consequently, skinks have been introduced to Ile aux Aigrettes, another small Mauritian island that has been cleared of rats. However, the island has been invaded by Asian Musk Shrews (Suncus murinus), a commensal species spread by man well beyond its natural Asian range. Our aim was to use next-generation sequencing to analyse the diets of the shrews and skinks to look for niche competition. DNA was extracted from skink faeces and from the stomach contents of shrews. Application of shrew- and skink-specific primers revealed no mutual predation. The DNA was then amplified using general invertebrate primers with tags to identify individual predators, and then sequenced by 454 pyrosequencing. 119 prey MOTUs (molecular taxonomic units) were isolated, although none could be identified to species. Seeding of cladograms with known sequences allowed higher taxonomic assignments in some cases. Although most MOTUs were not shared by shrews and skinks, Pianka's niche overlap test showed significant prey overlap, suggesting potentially strong competition where food resources are limited. These results suggest that removal of the shrews from the island should remain a priority.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QL Zoology
Uncontrolled Keywords: alien species; dietary overlap; molecular analysis of predation; next-generation sequencing; translocation
Additional Information: First published: 13 September 2013 Pdf uploaded in accordance with publisher's policy at http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/issn/0962-1083/ (accessed 29/03/2016)
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing
ISSN: 0962-1083
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2019 20:05
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/52922

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