Data from: 18S rRNA metabarcoding diet analysis of the predatory fish community across seasonal changes in prey availability
Waraniak, Justin M.; Marsh, Terence L.; Scribner, Kim T. (2019), Data from: 18S rRNA metabarcoding diet analysis of the predatory fish community across seasonal changes in prey availability, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.0jm1dt2
Predator-prey relationships are important ecological interactions, affecting biotic community composition and energy flow through a system, and are of interest to ecologists and managers. Morphological diet analysis has been the primary method used to quantify the diets of predators, but emerging molecular techniques using genetic data can provide more accurate estimates of relative diet composition. This study used sequences from the 18S V9 rRNA barcoding region to identify prey items in the gastrointestinal (GI) tracts of predatory fishes. Predator GI samples were taken from the Black River, Cheboygan Co., MI, USA (n=367 samples, 12 predator species) during periods of high prey availability, including the larval stage of regionally threatened lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens Rafinesque 1817) in late May/early June of 2015 and of relatively lower prey availability in early July of 2015. DNA was extracted and sequenced from 355 samples (96.7%), and prey DNA was identified in 286 of the 355 samples (80.6%). Prey were grouped into 33 ecologically significant taxonomic groups based on the lowest taxonomic level sequences that could be identified using sequences available on GenBank. Changes in the makeup of diet composition, dietary overlap, and predator preference were analyzed comparing the periods of high and low prey abundance. Some predator species exhibited compositional changes in diet. Dietary overlap was slightly but significantly higher during the period of high prey abundance. There was little evidence for large changes in predator preference between the two periods. This study demonstrates the utility of molecular diet analysis in understanding predator-prey interactions in complex freshwater communities.