DNA Metabarcoding can be used to obtain species-level data across all major taxonomic groups of invertebrates collected using standard capture methods (Malaise traps, pitfall traps, light traps, Winkler traps, sweep netting, kick sampling etc).
Our services overcome the major challenge associated with invertebrate surveys - the taxonomic effort required to identify specimens to species level.
These datasets are taxonomically comprehensive, and have high statistical power for demonstrating the effects of environmental or management changes on biological communities. The same approach can be applied to marine macrofauna and meiofauna collected using grab samples or other benthic sampling approaches, providing extremely high-resolution data on biological responses to environmental stresses."
Turnaround time is up to 8-working-weeks. See our Ordering page or get in touch for more details, a bespoke quote, or to place an order.
Considerations and limitations:
- Samples are ground up for DNA extraction, so make sure you do any necessary morphological examinations before sending the samples to us!
- Some of the conventional collecting fluids (e.g. ethylene glycol) are not great for preserving DNA. In particular, formalin makes DNA totally unusable, so never use this on samples that are to be sent for DNA analysis. If you’re not sure what to use, give us a call and we can help you find a viable alternative.
- Invertebrate metabarcoding returns presence-absence data, rather than abundance data. For this reason, metabarcoding cannot currently be used for Water Framework Directive monitoring of benthic macroinvertebrates because it does not fit the current metrics, which are abundance based. Nonetheless, it does provide excellent data on the responses of these taxa to environmental stressors, including pollution, and to management and restoration activities. Thus, if you are operating in freshwater environments but outside of the scope of the WFD, metabarcoding is an excellent option for processing large numbers of benthic macroinvertebrate samples.
- Most (c. 75%) UK terrestrial invertebrates are represented in reference databases, allowing us to identify them from DNA sequences. However, some are missing from the databases, which means that we can only return a higher-level taxonomy for those species (e.g. ‘a species of Chironomid’). You can think of these identifications as being equivalent to morphospecies. This may not be a problem if you are interested in broader level ecological trends, but if it is vital that you can identify all taxa to species level then we can work with you to develop a local reference database for your study or to check that key species are present in the database and fill in any important gaps.