Rapid sampling to inform conservation in remote Alaskan wildlife refuges

Study presents a biotic inventory in Alaskan Refuge by observations, specimens, DNA barcoding and high-throughput sequencing methods

GBIF-mediated data resources used : 40,342 species occurrences
Dichelotarsus laevicollis
Dichelotarsus laevicollis collected in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge by Matt Bowser.

Conserving biodiversity requires the ability to routinely document species distributions and assemblages. With a wide conservation mandate, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge (KNWR) in Southcentral Alaska has been inventoried but lacks spatially and temporally repeated sampling.

This study tests novel biomonitoring methods in KNWR, complementing past efforts while addressing previous shortcomings. In a study area of around 900 hectares split into 42 plots, researchers used a rapid scheme to carry out sampling of plants, lichens, birds, earthworms and terrestrial arthropods, designed to take less than one hour per visit.

Documenting 4,700 species occurrences within 200 m from plot centres, the project sampled more than 700 formally described species and an additional 274 assigned Barcode Index Numbers (BINs) based on DNA analysis. The researchers found 102 arthropod species newly reported from Alaska and five species new for North America. All occurrences were published to GBIF via VertNet.

Among three non-native species detected, Dendrobaena octaedra was the most widespread. Based on existing GBIF-mediated occurrences, non-native species appear to originate in the area near roads and the KNWR Visitor Center.

Bowser M, Brassfield R, Dziergowski A, Eskelin T, Hester J, Magness D, McInnis M, Melvin T, Morton J and Stone J (2020) Towards conserving natural diversity: A biotic inventory by observations, specimens, DNA barcoding and high-throughput sequencing methods. Biodiversity Data Journal. Pensoft Publishers 8. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3897/bdj.8.e50124