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Landscape analyses using eDNA metabarcoding and Earth observation predict community biodiversity in California

  • Lin, Meixi
  • Simons, Ariel Levi
  • Harrigan, Ryan J
  • Curd, Emily E
  • Schneider, Fabian D
  • Ruiz‐Ramos, Dannise V
  • Gold, Zack
  • Osborne, Melisa G
  • Shirazi, Sabrina
  • Schweizer, Teia M
  • Moore, Tiara N
  • Fox, Emma A
  • Turba, Rachel
  • Garcia‐Vedrenne, Ana E
  • Helman, Sarah K
  • Rutledge, Kelsi
  • Mejia, Maura Palacios
  • Marwayana, Onny
  • Ramos, Miroslava N Munguia
  • Wetzer, Regina
  • And 6 more
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2021
eScholarship - University of California
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Ecosystems globally are under threat from ongoing anthropogenic environmental change. Effective conservation management requires more thorough biodiversity surveys that can reveal system-level patterns and that can be applied rapidly across space and time. Using modern ecological models and community science, we integrate environmental DNA and Earth observations to produce a time snapshot of regional biodiversity patterns and provide multi-scalar community-level characterization. We collected 278 samples in spring 2017 from coastal, shrub, and lowland forest sites in California, a complex ecosystem and biodiversity hotspot. We recovered 16,118 taxonomic entries from eDNA analyses and compiled associated traditional observations and environmental data to assess how well they predicted alpha, beta, and zeta diversity. We found that local habitat classification was diagnostic of community composition and distinct communities and organisms in different kingdoms are predicted by different environmental variables. Nonetheless, gradient forest models of 915 families recovered by eDNA analysis and using BIOCLIM variables, Sentinel-2 satellite data, human impact, and topographical features as predictors, explained 35% of the variance in community turnover. Elevation, sand percentage, and photosynthetic activities (NDVI32) were the top predictors. In addition to this signal of environmental filtering, we found a positive relationship between environmentally predicted families and their numbers of biotic interactions, suggesting environmental change could have a disproportionate effect on community networks. Together, these analyses show that coupling eDNA with environmental predictors including remote sensing data has capacity to test proposed Essential Biodiversity Variables and create new landscape biodiversity baselines that span the tree of life.

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