By Aride Island Volunteer, Elena Levorato
Aride Island is well known for its high density of sea birds and skinks. However, countless invertebrates also inhabit the Island. We had the opportunity to help an MSc student, Kate Spence, on her Master project, where she undertook a food competition study between skinks, Seychelles Magpie Robins and mice. She took faeces samples to analyse the DNA between the different species. Over 100 different invertebrates were collected for meta-barcoding, in order to compare and understand what was in the diet of the skinks, magpies and mice.
During the day, we ventured into the forest - looking under the leaves, digging in the ground and turning rocks - searching for any kind of ‘creepy crawlies‘. Using gloves and sterilized tweezers, we collected whatever crossed our path (whenever we were able to catch them!). Caught individuals were conserved in ethanol, waiting for DNA analysis and identification. One morning, we even found an odd-looking worm which happened to be the Brahminy blind snake foraging under a rock.
When searching for nocturnal insects, we improvised a white screen trap, using a white blanket lit by a flashlight. We traversed the forest while being bitten by mosquitoes and successfully caught flying insects including moths, click beetles, weevils and many others. Participating in this project allowed us to discover the huge variety of small, often unnoticed inhabitants of the island!