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Indirect methods for conducting faunal inventories present great promise, and genomic inventories derived from environmental sources (eDNA) are improving. Invertebrate ingested DNA (iDNA) from terrestrial leeches in the family Haemadipsidae has shown potential for surveying vertebrates and biodiversity monitoring in protected areas. Here we present an initial, and critical, evaluation of the limitations and biases of current iDNA protocols for biodiversity monitoring using both standard and NGS barcoding approaches. Key findings include the need for taxon relevant multi-locus markers and reference databases. In particular, the limitations of available reference databases have profound potential to mislead and bias eDNA and iDNA results if not critically interpreted. Nevertheless, there is great potential for recovery of amplifiable DNA from gut contents of invertebrate museum specimens which may reveal both temporal patterns and cryptic diversity in protected areas with increased efficiency. Our analyses of ingested DNA (iDNA) from both freshly stored and previously collected (legacy) samples of terrestrial leeches successfully identified vertebrates from Myanmar, Australia and Madagascar and indicate the potential to characterize microbial communities, pathogen diversity and interactions at low cost.

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© the authors. Published under Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0. Original published version available at

Siddall, M., Barkdull, M., et al. (2019). Ideating IDNA: Lessons and Limitations From Leeches in Legacy Collections. PLoS ONE, 14(2), article # e0212226.

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