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For all audiences: Incorporating immature stages into standardised inventories of mega-diverse groups has a major impact on our understanding of biodiversity patterns
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  • Marc Domènech,
  • Owen S. Wangensteen,
  • Alba Enguídanos,
  • Jagoba Malumbres-Olarte,
  • Miquel Arnedo
Marc Domènech
University of Barcelona
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Owen S. Wangensteen
University of Tromsø
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Alba Enguídanos
University of Barcelona
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Jagoba Malumbres-Olarte
University of the Azores
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Miquel Arnedo
University of Barcelona
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Because of their challenging taxonomy, arthropods are traditionally underrepresented in biological inventories and monitoring programs. However, arthropods are the largest component of biodiversity, and no assessment can be considered informative without including them. Arthropod immature stages are often discarded during sorting, despite frequently representing more than half of the collected individuals. To date, little effort has been devoted to characterising the impact of discarding non-adult specimens on our diversity estimates. Here, we use a metabarcoding approach to analyse spiders from white oak communities in the Iberian Peninsula collected with standardised protocols, to assess (1) the contribution of juvenile stages to local diversity estimates, and (2) their effect on the diversity patterns inferred across communities. We further investigate the ability of metabarcoding to inform on abundance. We obtained 363 and 331 species as adults and juveniles, respectively. Species represented only by juveniles represented an increase of 35% with respect to those identified from adults in the whole sampling. Differences in composition between communities were greatly reduced when immature stages were taken considered, especially across latitudes. Moreover, our results revealed that metabarcoding data are to a certain extent quantitative, but some sort of taxonomic conversion factor may be necessary to provide accurate informative estimates. Although our findings do not question the relevance of the information provided by adult-based inventories, they also reveal that juveniles provide a novel and relevant layer of knowledge that, especially in areas with marked seasonality, may influence our interpretations, providing more accurate information from standardised biological inventories.

Peer review status:UNDER REVIEW

14 Jul 2021Submitted to Molecular Ecology Resources
23 Jul 2021Assigned to Editor
23 Jul 2021Submission Checks Completed
19 Aug 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned