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Etude du régime alimentaire des carnivores par des techniques moléculaires

Abstract : Information on food webs is central to understand ecosystem functioning. It also provides information of ecosystem stability by evaluating the resource availability and use. Obtaining information on the diet can be critical especially when dealing with elusive carnivores, which are difficult to observe. However, these large carnivores are keystone species that influence the ecosystem through trophic cascades and maintain biodiversity. Thus, precise knowledge of their diet is a prerequisite for designing conservation strategies of these endangered species. Direct and indirect monitoring as well as invasive and non-invasive approaches that have been used to study the diet are either biased or have a low resolution. The DNA-based analysis of feces is an alternative method that may provide better information. It can be implemented through a metabarcoding approach, which is the simultaneous identification of multiple species from a single environmental sample containing degraded DNA by using Next Generation Sequencing. In this case, the use of universal primers for vertebrates amplifying all potential prey also amplifies the predator DNA when it belongs to a close taxon (e.g. mammals). Thus, the PCR products obtained from feces extracts will mainly consist of predator sequences and may not represent the full diet. The use of oligonucleotides specifically blocking the amplification of the predator DNA may overcome this problem. We have developed such a method based on the concomitant use of a universal primer pair (12SV5, amplifying all vertebrates) and blocking oligonucleotides for identifying the prey DNA fragments from predators feces. Even if the method developed is not quantitative, it is robust and adequate for studying predator with a very large dietary range and has a better resolution than traditional methods for identifying prey at the genus or species level. This methodology has been applied to characterize the highly eclectic diet (mammals, birds, amphibians and fishes) of two Northern-Pakistani populations of leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis). With the same approach, we demonstrated the importance of the Human-leopard conflict in Pakistan, due to the almost exclusive consumption of domestic animals by the common leopard (Panthera pardus). We could also highlight relevant conservation issues for the highly endangered and cryptic snow leopard (Panthera uncia), based on the fact that it mainly fed on wild ungulates.
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Wasim Shehzad. Etude du régime alimentaire des carnivores par des techniques moléculaires. Autre [q-bio.OT]. Université de Grenoble, 2011. Français. ⟨NNT : 2011GRENV070⟩. ⟨tel-00680037⟩

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