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Friday 2 March 2012
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Exploring the Role of Land snails in Ecosystems

PAUSTIAN Megan

Genetic approaches are key to expanding the scope of land snail ecology and establishing their place in ecosystems. Land snails can contribute significantly to decomposition processes, and herbivorous species exert influence on plant populations through consumption of seedlings. Although selective feeding of plants has been observed, feeding preferences upon the decomposer community of fungus or bacteria species and these snails’ possible contribution to the spread of spores is very poorly known. Problematically, discerning diet by examining land snail feces is work-intensive, and the lowest taxonomic levels usually cannot be separated by eye. One step up the food chain, the literature on the predators and diseases of land snails is largely anecdotal. Visual analyses of feces or stomach contents of predators would generally overlook slugs and often snails, whose soft bodies are digested quickly. It should be possible to answer important questions in invasion and conservation biology by performing metabarcoding on the feces of land snails and their potential predators. Another possible use of genetic approaches is in surveying land snails. Weather and other environmental factors can strongly affect traditional surveying methods for slugs or rare snails. Biodiversity surveys and population genetics studies could be greatly aided if mucus and other land snail residues could be genotyped rather than the animals themselves, which are so frequently hidden and inaccessible.

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Editorial board
  • BRANDNER Melissa
    • University of Nordland
    • Bodø (Norway)
  • BROCHMANN Christian
    • National Centre for Biosystematics
    • Oslo (Norway)
  • CHARITON Anthony
    • CSIRO Land and Water
    • Lucas Heights NA (Australia)
  • DEAGLE Bruce
    • University of Victoria
    • Victoria (Canada)
  • Eric Coissac
    • LECA
    • Grenoble (France)
  • KASAPIDIS Panagiotis
    • Hellenic Center for Marine Research
    • Irakleion, Crete (Greece)
  • PAWLOWSKI Jan
    • Université de Genève
    • Genève 4 (Switzerland)
  • TABERLET Pierre
    • LECA,
    • Grenoble (France)
  • WILLERSLEV Eske
    • Centre for GeoGenetics
    • Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • ZINGER Lucie
    • IBENS
    • Paris (France)
Editorial
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    31 July 2015, by BRANDNER Melissa

    The start of last month saw the occurrence of the Fifth Metabarcoding Spring School held in Białowieża National Park , Poland. A variety of scientists attended from all over the globe to learn, share and inspire with unique stories of metabarcoding.
    The scientists at the Mammal Research Institute PAS in Białowieża National Park hosted this year’s workshop. And our hats go off to them for the organizational skills, warmth and hospitality. During the week, experienced metabarcoders gave lectures on their trials and tribulations in the field of metabarcoding, sparking conversations between the attendees. The end of the first day saw flash talks from all participants of the event, creating an icebreaker and showing the wide variety of applications for metabarcoding, including, dietary studies, environmental health, fundamental ecology and exploration of rare and ancient habitats.
    Pierre Taberlet (who is rumoured to run 8000 PCR a day!) taught technical aspects such as DNA extraction in (...)

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