There is a fascinating population of Italian Wall Lizards living in Boston's Fenway Gardens. Even during the height of the pandemic, members of the Lizard Team were able to do some fieldwork observing and tracking the lizard population at this novel site for the species. In the first of several publications the team is leading from this time, we recently published a Natural History Note in Herpetological Review describing a couple of instances of avian predation observed: a hawk and a grackle separately preyed on individuals from this population. The population has only been around for a short number of years, and there are no native lizards in this region, so this represented novel predatory behaviors on a no-analog lizard population in the region. Scroll to page 500 of this [PDF] for some interesting observation and incredible photos published -- congrats team!
Congratulations to Beth and the team for publishing a strong, thoughtful, and evidence-based reply to an earlier comment in Molecular Ecology.
The take-home: there are a lot of challenges and opportunities when it comes to using dietary DNA metabarcoding strategies to advance a variety of important research agendas; Beth is leading the way when it comes to clear-thinking about how we conduct our studies and how we can strengthen the evidence we use to support our conclusions.
The exemplary professional, Beth exposes persistent and potentially problematic misconceptions in the field in a way that is clear, constructive, and self-reflective. Whether or not our decisions about how to code dietary DNA metabarcoding data have a qualitative influence on our ecological interpretations is a question that we should all be asking. Beth and the team provide invaluable insight into when we might need to pay particular attention to this issue, and offer a blueprint to help us address the issue in a more structured way by sharing computer code that we wrote to conduct simulation studies and sensitivity analyses with real data.
Littleford-Colquhoun BL, Sackett VI, Tulloss CV, Kartzinel TR. 2022. Evidence-based strategies to navigate the complexity of dietary DNA: a reply. Molecular Ecology doi: 10.1111/mec.16712. [PDF]