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Seahorses are small sedentary fish considered flagship species of the conservation efforts. Worldwide decline of local populations during the last decades led to the inclusion of all seahorse species on the IUCN Red List and Appendix II of CITES. Due to the threatening status, improving knowledge of their dietary composition, while using a non-invasive approach, might be of great importance. In the present study, we used an amplicon-based HTS (High Throughput Sequencing) approach to investigate the diet of wild long-snouted seahorse Hippocampus guttulatus. The results indicated that the applied approach is adequate for the characterization of diet in wild specimens. Indeed, it permitted the classification of prey items even at the species level, which could have been difficult or even impossible to detect through traditional dietary methods. As only a small amount of starting faecal material is needed and the sampling procedure is neither invasive nor lethal, DNA metabarcoding could be useful in the investigation on threatened seahorse diet in the wild and could help inform management and conservation actions.
University of Bari, Italy
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Download from Proceedings of 2021 IEEE International Workshop on Metrology for the Sea