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Tree species diversity and forest edge density jointly shape the gut microbiota composition in juvenile great tits (Parus major)

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

Despite the microbiomeU+2019s key role in health and fitness, little is known about the environmental factors shaping the gut microbiome of wild birds. With habitat fragmentation being recognised as a major threat to biological diversity, we here determined how forest structure influences the bacterial species richness and diversity of wild great tit nestlings (Parus major). Using an Illumina metabarcoding approach which amplifies the 16S bacterial ribosomal RNA gene, we measured gut microbiota diversity and composition from 49 great tit nestlings, originating from 23 different nests that were located in 22 different study plots across a gradient of forest fragmentation and tree species diversity. Per nest, an average microbiome was determined on which the influence of tree species (composition and richness) and forest fragmentation (fragment area and edge density) was examined and whether this was linked to host characteristics (body condition and fledging success). We found an interaction effect of edge density with tree species richness or composition on both the microbial richness (alpha diversity: Chao1 and Shannon) and community structure (beta diversity: weighted and unweighted UniFrac). No significant short-term impact was observed of the overall faecal microbiome on host characteristics, but rather an adverse effect of specific bacterial genera on fledging success. These results highlight the influence of environmental factors on the microbial richness as well as the phylogenetic diversity during a life stage where the birdsU+2019 microbiota is shaped, which could lead to long-term consequences for host fitness.
ISSN: 1664-302X
Volume: 13