Human-provisioned foods reduce gut microbiome diversity in American black bears (Ursus americanus)
Gillman, S. J., McKenney, E. A., & Lafferty, D. J. R. (2021, December 27). JOURNAL OF MAMMALOGY.
Abstract The distal gut is home to the dynamic and influential gut microbiome, which is intimately linked to mammalian health by promoting and facilitating countless physiological functions. In a time of increased anthropogenic pressures on wildlife due to widespread habitat destruction, loss of natural prey/foods, and rapid urbanization, the study of wildlife gut microbiomes could prove to be a valuable tool in wildlife management and conservation. Diet is one of the most influential determinants of a host’s gut microbiome; yet many wildlife agencies allow baiting to facilitate wildlife harvest, although the impact of human-provisioned foods on wildlife gut health is largely unknown. We used stable isotope analysis derived from carbon (δ 13C) to index the use of human-provisioned foods by 35 legally harvested American black bears (Ursus americanus), and16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing to examine the impact of human-provisioned foods on the gut microbial diversity of black bears. We found that greater long-term consumption of human-provisioned foods was associated with significantly reduced microbial species richness and phylogenetic diversity. Our results indicate that consumption of anthropogenic foods through baiting significantly alters the mammalian gut microbiome.