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Friday 10 May 2013
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eDNA monitoring of aquatic animals based on water samples

Jos KIELGAST

University of Copenhagen, Natural History Museum of Denmark

Aquatic animals are being monitored for a great variety of reasons spanning from basic research to applied fields such as water quality assessment, stock management and species conservation. Reliable, sensitive and repeatable data collection is vital in all these contexts. However, in many cases it remains a challenge owing to field methods that are hard to standardize and depend heavily on taxonomic expertise in decline. We have investigated the potential for using eDNA from water samples as a general and cost efficient short-cut to address this problem. We demonstrated the utility of the method in conservation monitoring of threatened freshwater species showing that a diversity of rare animals can be efficiently detected and possibly even quantified based on DNA. We validated the findings in a controlled mesocosm experiment which also indicated that detectable DNA traces are near contemporary with species presence. To test the eDNA approach at the very extreme we applied metabarcoding to pond water from well-known localities and found that entire faunas of amphibians and fish can be accounted for by DNA in very small water samples. We repeated this metabarcoding approach in a marine setting yielding similar promising results for fish and indicating a relatively high performance comparative to a range of conventional monitoring methods. Overall our findings underpin the ubiquitous nature of DNA traces in the environment and support a bright future for eDNA applications in the monitoring of aquatic animal populations.

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Editorial board
  • BRANDNER Melissa
    • University of Nordland
    • Bodø (Norway)
  • BROCHMANN Christian
    • National Centre for Biosystematics
    • Oslo (Norway)
  • CHARITON Anthony
    • CSIRO Land and Water
    • Lucas Heights NA (Australia)
  • DEAGLE Bruce
    • University of Victoria
    • Victoria (Canada)
  • Eric Coissac
    • LECA
    • Grenoble (France)
  • KASAPIDIS Panagiotis
    • Hellenic Center for Marine Research
    • Irakleion, Crete (Greece)
  • PAWLOWSKI Jan
    • Université de Genève
    • Genève 4 (Switzerland)
  • TABERLET Pierre
    • LECA,
    • Grenoble (France)
  • WILLERSLEV Eske
    • Centre for GeoGenetics
    • Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • ZINGER Lucie
    • IBENS
    • Paris (France)
Editorial
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    The scientists at the Mammal Research Institute PAS in Białowieża National Park hosted this year’s workshop. And our hats go off to them for the organizational skills, warmth and hospitality. During the week, experienced metabarcoders gave lectures on their trials and tribulations in the field of metabarcoding, sparking conversations between the attendees. The end of the first day saw flash talks from all participants of the event, creating an icebreaker and showing the wide variety of applications for metabarcoding, including, dietary studies, environmental health, fundamental ecology and exploration of rare and ancient habitats.
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