Abstract

Invertebrate-derived ingested DNA (iDNA) is quickly proving to be a valuable, non-invasive tool for monitoring vertebrate species of conservation concern. Using the DNA barcoding locus, we successfully identified both the blood-feeding leech Haementeria acuecueyetzin and its blood meal—the latter is shown to be derived from the Caribbean manatee, Trichechus manatus. DNA amplification was successful despite the fact that the specimen was fixed in Mezcal (a beverage distilled from agave). We report the first confirmed case of a leech feeding on a manatee, the first record of H. acuecueyetzin for the State of Chiapas and, to our knowledge, the first case of successful DNA amplification of a biological sample fixed in Mezcal other than the caterpillar “worms” more commonly found in that beverage.

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