DNA barcoding in the Southeast Pacific marine realm: Low coverage and geographic representation despite high diversity
The Southeast Pacific comprises two Large Marine Ecosystems, the Pacific Central-American Coastal and the Humboldt Current System; and is one of the less well known in the tropical subregions in terms of biodiversity. To address this, we compared DNA barcoding repositories with the marine biodiversity species for the Southeast Pacific. We obtained a checklist of marine species in the Southeast Pacific (i.e. Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, and Peru) from the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS) database and compared it with species available at the Barcoding of Life Data System (BOLD) repository. Of the 5504 species records retrieved from OBIS, 42% of them had at least one registered specimen in BOLD (including specimens around the world); however, only 4.5% of records corresponded to publicly available DNA barcodes including specimens collected from a Southeast Pacific country. The low representation of barcoded species does not vary much across the different taxonomic groups or within countries, but we observed an asymmetric distribution of DNA barcoding records for taxonomic groups along the coast, being more abundant for the Humboldt Current System than the Pacific Central-American Coastal. We observed high-level of barcode records with Barcode Index Number (BIN) incongruences, particularly for fishes (Actinopterygii = 30.27% and Elasmobranchii = 24.71%), reflecting taxonomic uncertainties for fishes, whereas for Invertebrates and Mammalia more than 85% of records were classified as data deficient or inadequate procedure for DNA barcoding. DNA barcoding is a powerful tool to study biodiversity, with a great potential to increase the knowledge of the Southeast Pacific marine biodiversity. Our results highlight the critical need for increasing taxonomic sampling effort, the number of trained taxonomic specialists, laboratory facilities, scientific collections, and genetic reference libraries.