Data from: DNA barcoding and minibarcoding as a powerful tool for feather mite studies
Doña, Jorge et al. (2015), Data from: DNA barcoding and minibarcoding as a powerful tool for feather mite studies, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.34702
Feather mites (Astigmata: Analgoidea and Pterolichoidea) are among the most abundant and commonly occurring bird ectosymbionts. Basic questions on the ecology and evolution of feather mites remain unanswered because feather mite species identification is often only possible for adult males, and it is laborious even for specialized taxonomists, thus precluding large-scale identifications. Here, we tested DNA barcoding as a useful molecular tool to identify feather mites from passerine birds. Three hundred and sixty-one specimens of 72 species of feather mites from 68 species of European passerine birds from Russia and Spain were barcoded. The accuracy of barcoding and minibarcoding was tested. Moreover, threshold choice (a controversial issue in barcoding studies) was also explored in a new way, by calculating through simulations the effect of sampling effort (in species number and species composition) on threshold calculations. We found one 200-bp minibarcode region that showed the same accuracy as the full-length barcode (602 bp) and was surrounded by conserved regions potentially useful for group-specific degenerate primers. Species identification accuracy was perfect (100%) but decreased when singletons or species of the Proctophyllodes pinnatus group were included. In fact, barcoding confirmed previous taxonomic issues within the P. pinnatus group. Following an integrative taxonomy approach, we compared our barcode study with previous taxonomic knowledge on feather mites, discovering three new putative cryptic species and validating three previous morphologically different (but still undescribed) new species.