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Mol Ecol Resour. 2016 May;16(3):809-22. doi: 10.1111/1755-0998.12489. Epub 2015 Dec 14.

Establishing a community-wide DNA barcode library as a new tool for arctic research.

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Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Latokartanonkaari 5, 00790, Helsinki, Finland.
Finnish Environment Institute, Natural Environment Centre, Friendship Park Research Centre, Lentiirantie 342B, 88900, Kuhmo, Finland.
Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Ny Munkegade 114, DK-8000, Aarhus, Denmark.
Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 7044, 750 07, Uppsala, Sweden.
Arctic Research Centre, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Frederiksborgvej 399, DK-4000, Roskilde, Denmark.
Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada.
Department of Zoology and Fisheries, Faculty of Agrobiology, Food and Natural Resources, Czech University of Life Sciences, 165 21, Praha 6 - Suchdol, Czech Republic.
Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 3EJ, UK.
Division of Conservation Biology, Vegetation Ecology and Landscape Ecology, Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research, University of Vienna, Rennweg 14, 1030, Vienna, Austria.
Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Vejlsøvej 25, Silkeborg, DK-8600, Denmark.
Department of Forest Pathology, University of Life Sciences, Wojska Polskiego 71c, Poznan, 60625, Poland.
Finnish Museum of Natural History, Zoology Unit, University of Helsinki, Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu 13, 00100, Helsinki, Finland.
Metsähallitus, Parks & Wildlife Finland, PO Box 94, 01301, Vantaa, Finland.
Finnish Environment Institute, Mechelininkatu 34A, 00250, Helsinki, Finland.
Station Linné, Ölands Skogsby 161, 38693, Färjestaden, Sweden.
Zoological Museum of the University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.
Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change, Roskilde University, Universitetsvej 1, PO Box 260, DK-4000, Roskilde, Denmark.
Sandvedhagen 8, NO-4318, Sandnes, Norway.
Ruuhikoskenkatu 17 B 5, 24240, Salo, Finland.
Department of Biology, University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 11, 80101, Joensuu, Finland.
Metsähallitus, Ounasjoentie 6, 96101, Rovaniemi, Finland.
Finnish Museum of Natural History, Botany Unit, University of Helsinki, Unioninkatu 44, 00140, Helsinki, Finland.
Fakultät Biologie, Universität Bielefeld, Universitätsstrasse 25, 33615, Bielefeld, Germany.


DNA sequences offer powerful tools for describing the members and interactions of natural communities. In this study, we establish the to-date most comprehensive library of DNA barcodes for a terrestrial site, including all known macroscopic animals and vascular plants of an intensively studied area of the High Arctic, the Zackenberg Valley in Northeast Greenland. To demonstrate its utility, we apply the library to identify nearly 20 000 arthropod individuals from two Malaise traps, each operated for two summers. Drawing on this material, we estimate the coverage of previous morphology-based species inventories, derive a snapshot of faunal turnover in space and time and describe the abundance and phenology of species in the rapidly changing arctic environment. Overall, 403 terrestrial animal and 160 vascular plant species were recorded by morphology-based techniques. DNA barcodes (CO1) offered high resolution in discriminating among the local animal taxa, with 92% of morphologically distinguishable taxa assigned to unique Barcode Index Numbers (BINs) and 93% to monophyletic clusters. For vascular plants, resolution was lower, with 54% of species forming monophyletic clusters based on barcode regions rbcLa and ITS2. Malaise catches revealed 122 BINs not detected by previous sampling and DNA barcoding. The insect community was dominated by a few highly abundant taxa. Even closely related taxa differed in phenology, emphasizing the need for species-level resolution when describing ongoing shifts in arctic communities and ecosystems. The DNA barcode library now established for Zackenberg offers new scope for such explorations, and for the detailed dissection of interspecific interactions throughout the community.


DNA barcode library; Greenland; arthropod; high arctic; species diversity

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