The monk seal is the most endangered pinniped worldwide and the only one found in the Mediterranean, where its distribution and abundance have suffered a drastic decline in the last few decades. The limited understanding of the population demographics and conservation status of this species are due to both its rarity and evasiveness, with records biased towards occasional, mostly coastal, encounters. Current molecular techniques allow us to detect DNA traces released into the environment (eDNA) by any organism. We have developed three species-specific qPCR-assays targeting the 12S/16S rRNA mitogenome regions of the monk seal. The assays have been tested extensively on a comprehensive and diverse set of samples (n = 73), including positive controls from a breeding population in Madeira collected during their peak abundance, and two opportunistic collections of Mediterranean eDNA samples (offshore/coastal) from on-going projects. Monk seal DNA was detected in 47.2% of the samples collected from a ferry platform in the Tyrrhenian (2018–2019) and in 66.7% of those obtained in the Pelagie archipelago in the Strait of Sicily (2020). These findings anticipated subsequent visual observations in the proximity of these sampling areas by up to 2 years. At the Tyrrhenian site, monk seal detection increased between 2018 and 2019. The demonstrated approach provides a non-invasive and highly sensitive tool for defining the monk seal actual distribution and home range -enabling monitoring also in nocturnal hours-, for assessing its recovery rate and pinpointing coastal/offshore sites where prioritizing conservation, research, citizen-science, and educational opportunities.

Valsecchi, E., Coppola, E., Pires, R., Parmegiani, A., Casiraghi, M., Galli, P., et al. (2022). A species-specific qPCR assay provides novel insight into range expansion of the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) by means of eDNA analysis. BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION, 31(4), 1175-1196 [10.1007/s10531-022-02382-0].

A species-specific qPCR assay provides novel insight into range expansion of the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) by means of eDNA analysis

Valsecchi E.
Primo
;
Parmegiani A.;Casiraghi M.;Galli P.;Bruno A.
Ultimo
2022

Abstract

The monk seal is the most endangered pinniped worldwide and the only one found in the Mediterranean, where its distribution and abundance have suffered a drastic decline in the last few decades. The limited understanding of the population demographics and conservation status of this species are due to both its rarity and evasiveness, with records biased towards occasional, mostly coastal, encounters. Current molecular techniques allow us to detect DNA traces released into the environment (eDNA) by any organism. We have developed three species-specific qPCR-assays targeting the 12S/16S rRNA mitogenome regions of the monk seal. The assays have been tested extensively on a comprehensive and diverse set of samples (n = 73), including positive controls from a breeding population in Madeira collected during their peak abundance, and two opportunistic collections of Mediterranean eDNA samples (offshore/coastal) from on-going projects. Monk seal DNA was detected in 47.2% of the samples collected from a ferry platform in the Tyrrhenian (2018–2019) and in 66.7% of those obtained in the Pelagie archipelago in the Strait of Sicily (2020). These findings anticipated subsequent visual observations in the proximity of these sampling areas by up to 2 years. At the Tyrrhenian site, monk seal detection increased between 2018 and 2019. The demonstrated approach provides a non-invasive and highly sensitive tool for defining the monk seal actual distribution and home range -enabling monitoring also in nocturnal hours-, for assessing its recovery rate and pinpointing coastal/offshore sites where prioritizing conservation, research, citizen-science, and educational opportunities.
Articolo in rivista - Articolo scientifico
12SrDNA; 16SrDNA; Barcoding; Ferry; MarVer; Monachini; Pinnipeds;
English
1175
1196
22
Valsecchi, E., Coppola, E., Pires, R., Parmegiani, A., Casiraghi, M., Galli, P., et al. (2022). A species-specific qPCR assay provides novel insight into range expansion of the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) by means of eDNA analysis. BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION, 31(4), 1175-1196 [10.1007/s10531-022-02382-0].
Valsecchi, E; Coppola, E; Pires, R; Parmegiani, A; Casiraghi, M; Galli, P; Bruno, A
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10281/381346
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