DNA barcode data included in new update of the Biota of Canada

Guelph, Canada. Jan 30, 2019

“Even ten years ago, I would have never predicted the inclusion of DNA barcode information in a faunistic monograph of this scale.”

    When the Biological Survey of Canada (BSC) released its commemorative update to a 40-year-old faunistics classic – Hugh Dank’s Canada and its Insect Fauna, it considered, for the first time, species counts determined through DNA barcoding.

    “Even ten years ago, I would have never predicted the inclusion of DNA barcode information in a faunistic monograph of this scale”, said Jeremy deWaard, one of the editorial board members of the new Biota of Canada series, and the Associate Director (Collections) at the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics (CBG) at the University of Guelph, in Ontario, Canada.

    deWaard and his CBG colleagues reviewed and provided DNA barcode data for nearly all papers. “The use of molecular data is greatly facilitating the documentation of the biota within Canada and around the world”, said deWaard. “The fact that the current assessment of Canada’s terrestrial arthropods reports and uses DNA barcodes to estimate species diversity is a testament to its growing acceptance among scientists.”

    Dank’s original Canada and its Insect Fauna assessed terrestrial arthropods in a 573-page, 50-chapter volume by 60 specialists in 1979. The monograph has been the standard for Canadian entomology and arachnology, representing the first attempt to amalgamate knowledge about terrestrial arthropod diversity, distribution, and habitats in Canada. In 2016, the BSC launched a major project to update Dank’s collection resulting in The Biota of Canada – A Biodiversity Assessment. Part 1: The Terrestrial Arthropods, published in the journal ZooKeys on January 25th, 2019.

    As the last assessment on the state of knowledge of Canada’s entire biota was completed in 1995, the BSC’s project endeavored to review and assess all groups of organisms in a series of volumes overseen by the Biota of Canada Editorial Board, led by David Langor and Cory Sheffield and including deWaard, Robb Bennett, José Fernández-Triana, Rémi Hébert, and Jade Savage. They worked with a team of 70 specialists and co-authors to produce the first volume that included a set of 29 papers, also including a foreword and a synthesis.

    “I think everyone on the editorial board would agree that it was a long, but very rewarding process,” says deWaard. “It was quite exciting watching the decades and decades of expert knowledge being captured, debated, and molded into each paper, and then seeing it all come together at the end.”

    Each paper, representing a group of arthropods—like flies or spiders—includes a table that compares the number of species described in 1979, the number of species known today, and an estimate on the number of species yet to be discovered. This table also includes the number of Barcode Index Numbers (BINs) from the Barcode of Life Datasystems (BOLD) database reported for Canada, highlighting the large strides made in integrating traditional taxonomy and molecular approaches such as DNA barcoding.

    The vast majority of the 1.9 million Canadian records (comprising over 75,000 BINs) were generated by the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics (CBG) and its Canadian partners. CBG staff not only assisted in compiling, organizing, and summarizing the BIN data but several CBG staff also assisted specialists in interpreting the BIN information necessary to guide their estimates of undiscovered species diversity. CBG staff also played a significant role in co-authoring papers in the special issue; Gerry Blagoev, Jeremy deWaard, Mikko Pentinsaari, and Monica Young were among them.

    “Change was a recurring theme in early editorial board discussions”, said deWaard, “not just change in our state of knowledge over 40 years, but in how that knowledge has been impacted by advancements over that time.” As described in the issue, one of the most significant developments since 1979 is the advent of molecular tools, namely DNA barcoding, that have revolutionized systematics and biodiversity surveying. “DNA barcoding has added a new tool to the taxonomist’s toolkit, to expedite the discovery, delimitation and description of species,” added deWaard.

    Overall, the volume revealed that there are 44,100 described species of terrestrial arthropods known from Canada, a 34% increase in the number of described species reported 40 years ago (32,850 species). Conservatively guided by BIN data, 27,000 – 42,600 species remain undiscovered in Canada, indicating that currently 51–62% of the terrestrial arthropods are known. There is still much work to be done before the Canadian biota is fully documented, a task that can be completed with more strategic investment in surveys and taxonomy—both utilizing DNA barcoding.

    “The Centre for Biodiversity Genomics played multiple key roles in the creation of this issue”, concluded deWaard. “From the collecting, processing and barcoding of Canadian specimens, to the assembly, writing and editing of papers, CBG staff were involved in all of it. I think it’s a major contribution for all of us to be proud of.”

    DNA barcoding has proven to be highly valuable tool to enhance the documentation of Canadian biota; as the BOLD database grows and the relationship between BINS and putative morphological species are explored in more detail, its value will further increase.

    The Biota of Canada – A Biodiversity Assessment

    The Biota of Canada – A Biodiversity Assessment. Part 1: The Terrestrial Arthropods
      Photo by ZooKeys

    Papers coauthored by CBG staff:

    Beaulieu F, Knee W, Nowell V, Schwarzfeld M, Lindo Z, Behan‑Pelletier VM, Lumley L, Young MR, Smith I, Proctor HC, Mironov SV, Galloway TD, Walter DE, Lindquist EE (2019) Acari of Canada. In: Langor DW, Sheffield CS (Eds) The Biota of Canada – A Biodiversity Assessment. Part 1: The Terrestrial Arthropods. ZooKeys 819: 77-168. doi:10.3897/zookeys.819.28307

    Bennett R, Blagoev G, Copley C (2019) Araneae of Canada. In: Langor DW, Sheffield CS (Eds) The Biota of Canada – A Biodiversity Assessment. Part 1: The Terrestrial Arthropods. ZooKeys 819: 41-56. doi:10.3897/zookeys.819.26391

    Brunke AJ, Bouchard P, Douglas HB, Pentinsaari M (2019) Coleoptera of Canada. In: Langor DW, Sheffield CS (Eds) The Biota of Canada – A Biodiversity Assessment. Part 1: The Terrestrial Arthropods. ZooKeys 819: 361-376. doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.819.24724

    Bennett AMR, Sheffield CS, deWaard JR (2019) Hymenoptera of Canada. In: Langor DW, Sheffield CS (Eds) The Biota of Canada – A Biodiversity Assessment. Part 1: The Terrestrial Arthropods. ZooKeys 819: 311-360. doi:10.3897/zookeys.819.28510

    Pohl GR, Landry J-F, Schmidt BC, deWaard JR (2019) Lepidoptera of Canada. In: Langor DW, Sheffield CS (Eds) The Biota of Canada – A Biodiversity Assessment. Part 1: The Terrestrial Arthropods. ZooKeys 819: 463-505. doi:10.3897/zookeys.819.27259

    Langor DW, deWaard JR, Snyder BA (2019) Myriapoda of Canada. In: Langor DW, Sheffield CS (Eds) The Biota of Canada – A Biodiversity Assessment. Part 1: The Terrestrial Arthropods. ZooKeys 819: 169-186. doi:10.3897/zookeys.819.29447

    Savage J, Borkent A, Brodo F, Cumming JM, Curler G, Currie DC, deWaard JR, Gibson JF, Hauser M, Laplante L, Lonsdale O, Marshall SA, O’Hara JE, Sinclair BJ, Skevington JH (2019) Diptera of Canada. In: Langor DW, Sheffield CS (Eds) The Biota of Canada – A Biodiversity Assessment. Part 1: The Terrestrial Arthropods. ZooKeys 819: 397-450. doi:10.3897/zookeys.819.27625

    Sheffield CS, deWaard JR, Morse JC, Rasmussen AK (2019) Trichoptera of Canada. In: Langor DW, Sheffield CS (Eds) The Biota of Canada – A Biodiversity Assessment. Part 1: The Terrestrial Arthropods. ZooKeys 819: 507-520. doi:10.3897/zookeys.819.31140

    Links:

    Biological Survey of Canada
    Centre for Biodiversity Genomics
    Barcode of Life Datasystems

    Contacts:

    Dr. Jeremy deWaard
    Associate Director, Collections
    Email: dewaardj@uoguelph.ca
    Tel: 519-824-4120 X 52258

    Hannah James
    Media Relations
    Email: hjames@uoguelph.ca
    Tel: 519-824-4120 X 52291