The gut microbiome of wild American marten in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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Date
2022-11
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Public Library of Science
Abstract

Carnivores are ecologically important and sensitive to habitat loss and anthropogenic disruption. Here we measured trophic level and gut bacterial composition as proxies of carnivore ecological status across the Upper Peninsula, Michigan, for wild American marten (Martes americana; hereafter marten). In contrast to studies that have focused on omnivorous and herbivorous species, we find that marten, like other carnivore species without a cecum, are dominated by Firmicutes (52.35%) and Proteobacteria (45.31%) but lack Bacteroidetes. Additionally, a majority of the 12 major bacterial genera (occurring at >= 1%) are known hydrogen producers, suggesting these taxa may contribute to host energy requirements through fermentative production of acetate. Our study suggests that live trapping and harvest methods yield similar marten gut microbiome data. In addition, preserving undisturbed forest likely impacts marten ecology by measurably increasing marten trophic level and altering the gut microbiome. Our study underscores the utility of the gut microbiome as a tool to monitor the ecological status of wild carnivore populations.

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Keywords
Trophic relationships, human footprint, conservation, isotopes, delta-c-13, unifrac, number, tools, black, diet
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