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Otterly delicious: Spatiotemporal variation in the diet of a recovering population of Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra) revealed through DNA metabarcoding and morphological analysis of prey remains
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  • Lorna Drake,
  • Jordan Cuff,
  • Sergio Bedmar Castillo,
  • Robbie McDonald,
  • W.O.C. Symondson,
  • Elizabeth Chadwick
Lorna Drake
Cardiff University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Jordan Cuff
Newcastle University Faculty of Science Agriculture and Engineering
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Sergio Bedmar Castillo
Donana Biological Station
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Robbie McDonald
University of Exeter
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W.O.C. Symondson
Cardiff University
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Elizabeth Chadwick
Cardiff University College of Biomedical and Life Sciences
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Eurasian otters are apex predators of freshwater ecosystems and a recovering species across much of their European range; investigating the dietary variation of this predator over time and space therefore provides opportunities to identify changes in freshwater trophic interactions and factors influencing the conservation of otter populations. Here we sampled faeces from 300 dead otters across England and Wales between 2007 and 2016, conducting both morphological analysis of prey remains and dietary DNA metabarcoding. Comparison of these methods showed that greater taxonomic resolution and breadth could be achieved using DNA metabarcoding but combining data from both methodologies gave the most comprehensive dietary description. All otter demographics exploited a broad range of taxa and variation primarily reflected changes in prey distributions and availability across the landscape. This study provides novel insights into the trophic generalism and adaptability of otters across Britain, which is likely to have aided their recent population recovery, and may increase their resilience to future environmental changes.
01 Jan 2023Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
02 Jan 2023Submission Checks Completed
02 Jan 2023Assigned to Editor
12 Jan 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
23 Feb 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
24 Feb 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
21 Mar 20231st Revision Received
21 Mar 2023Submission Checks Completed
21 Mar 2023Assigned to Editor
21 Mar 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
03 Apr 2023Editorial Decision: Accept