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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Forest biomonitoring, biosecurity and DNA barcoding deWaard, Jeremy Ryan

Abstract

The economic, social and biological value of our forests makes their sustainability essential to our well-being. To ensure their long-term health, it is critical to regularly and effectively monitor their inhabitants, as well as to detect non-indigenous species early and accurately. These programs rely on the precise diagnosis of species, which can be complicated for terrestrial arthropods by sizeable trap samples, damaged specimens, immature life stages and incomplete taxonomy. The recent advent of DNA barcoding, a technique that differentiates species using sequence variation in a standard gene region, shows tremendous promise for circumventing these obstacles. This dissertation evaluates the integration of barcoding into forest arthropod biomonitoring and biosurveillance programs with several investigations of nocturnal moths (Lepidoptera) in British Columbia, Canada. Barcode reference libraries are constructed for looper moths (Geometridae) and Lymantria (Erebidae) tussock moths, and are determined to successfully discriminate species in over 93% and 97% of cases, respectively. The libraries demonstrate how barcoding might enhance biosurveillance programs by flagging two new records for geometrid moths, and by successfully diagnosing 32 intercepted tussock moth specimens. These two libraries, and a multi-gene phylogeny constructed for Geometridae, are used to conduct faunal inventories in modified forest systems, and investigate the influence of disturbance on three levels of moth diversity—species, genetic, and phylogenetic. A first level inventory of Stanley Park, Vancouver, produces a preliminary list of 190 species, the detection of four new exotic species, and the discovery of two potentially cryptic species. Surveys conducted across several harvest treatments at two silvicultural research forests display no evidence of increased diversity at intermediate disturbance levels, but do reveal a correlation between species and genetic diversity. And lastly, three levels of moth diversity are estimated in ponderosa pine systems that differ widely in attack by Dendroctonus bark beetles, and demonstrate a negative association between species diversity and tree mortality. In combination, all projects suggest that DNA barcoding provides several advantages over traditional biosurveillance and biomonitoring, including the ability to rapidly sort specimens, a reduction in specialist time, the detection of species at low density, and the ability to appraise multiple levels of diversity.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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