Biodiversity

Housemates

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Science  09 Dec 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6317, pp. 1246-1247
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6317.1246-e

Genetic screening of dust allows us to identify the arthropods that share our homes.

PHOTO: ANNE A. MADDEN, WITH THE ASSISTANCE FROM ROBERT MCGUGAN/UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO, BOULDER NANOMATERIALS CHARACTERIZATION FACILITY, FALSE-COLORING DONE BY ROBIN HACKER-CARY

Whether we recognize it or not, we share our homes with a remarkable diversity of arthropods. Classifying the species that share our space is a challenging task. Madden et al. identified over 600 of these species by genotyping house dust collected by citizen scientists from over 700 homes across the United States, revealing the presence of both expected species, such as cockroaches, and unexpected species, such as parasitic wasps. The characteristics of the home or the home occupants were more important for predicting occurrence than were climatic or regional factors, suggesting that home arthropod distributions cannot reliably be predicted from outdoor arthropod predictions but may represent groups of species that are well adapted to human environments.

Mol. Ecol. 10.1111/mec.13900 (2016).

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