Cover photo credit: Mitch Hall
By Crystal Sobel
Back in 2014, the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics (CBG) deployed Malaise Traps in 51 Ontario Provincial Parks with the help of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) in a large experiment to assess arthropod diversity. We completed our analysis last year after sorting ~250,000 specimens and putting another ~750,000 through bulk analysis. That was a job indeed!
You may be wondering how we get through such large quantities of samples. During the summer months from May to August we have a large team of summer staff comprising of undergraduate students. They do the tedious tasks of pinning, sorting, arraying, labeling and tissue sampling all those specimens. We couldn’t do it without them, they are an important part of completing our research goals!
DNA barcoding has greatly advanced species detection. Using an algorithm, we can assign similar sequences to the same Barcode Index Number (BIN), which is a proxy for species. Our results detected 23,834 BINs, with over half being flies (Diptera, followed by bees, ants and wasps (Hymenoptera), moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera), and beetles (Coleoptera).
One interesting result I am always amazed by is the number of singleton BINs. This type of BIN is defined by the presence of a single specimen representing a single species. We detected 5,492 singletons! These discoveries may be overlooked if it wasn’t for the method we follow. All specimens from each sample were sequenced, no specimen was left behind in the sample jar.
If you would like to learn more about the results, have a read here. Individual reports for each Ontario Provincial Park are also available.
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Crystal is a senior lab technician working in the Collections Unit at the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics. CBG is the global leader in the field of DNA barcoding and conducts large scale biodiversity science research. Crystal participates in the daily operations, including field collecting, specimen preparation, and biodiversity outreach.