Environmental conditions in the Chukchi Sea are changing rapidly and may alter the abundance and distribution of marine species and their benthic prey. We used a metabarcoding approach to identify potentially important prey taxa from Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) fecal samples (n = 87). Bivalvia was the most dominant class of prey (66% of all normalized counts) and occurred in 98% of the samples. Polychaeta and Gastropoda occurred in 70% and 62% of the samples, respectively. The remaining nine invertebrate classes comprised <21% of all normalized counts. The common occurrence of these three prey classes is consistent with examinations of walrus stomach contents. Despite these consistencies, biases in the metabarcoding approach to determine diet from feces have been highlighted in other studies and require further study, in addition to biases that may have arisen from our opportunistic sampling. However, this noninvasive approach provides accurate identification of prey taxa from degraded samples and could yield much‐needed information on shifts in walrus diet in a rapidly changing Arctic.
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||DNA metabarcoding of feces to infer summer diet of Pacific walruses|
|Series title||Marine Mammal Science|
|Contributing office(s)||Alaska Science Center Biology WTEB|
|Other Geospatial||Bering Sea, Chukchi Sea|
|Google Analytic Metrics||Metrics page|