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Project StockDNA; Combining marine eDNA and hydroacoustics to improve the accuracy of pelagic fish monitoring surveys.

Brodie, C (2023) Project StockDNA; Combining marine eDNA and hydroacoustics to improve the accuracy of pelagic fish monitoring surveys. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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The vast and dynamic swathes of pelagic ecosystems in the North-East Atlantic house multiple ecologically and economically important fish species. To ensure that humans do not over exploit these fish, and their habitats, multiple routine monitoring surveys take place. These surveys typically involve the use of hydroacoustic echosounders with trawling methods and collect information on the age, sex, size and weight of species that is used in dynamic models to predict changes in the mortality rate and stock size of cohorts of species. Although this method can be used to target pelagic fish, it has difficulty separating fish schools by species, typically requiring trawling validation methods to confirm the identity of the fish. However, trawling does not guarantee a representative catch of the fish schools which can skew the partitioning of hydroacoustic data, resulting in non-valid estimations of pelagic fish populations. Environmental DNA (eDNA) is a tool that has been utilised to detect pelagic fish species and is not impacted by the same bias as trawling. To investigate the use of eDNA to become a “net with no holes”, validating fish schools detected by hydroacoustics, this thesis first aimed to refine the eDNA sampling strategy for marine pelagic fish. By collecting eDNA during routine pelagic hydroacoustic surveys this thesis first demonstrates that the sampling depth and hydrological conditions of the water do not significantly impact the number of pelagic fish species, communities, or the number of eDNA reads. Using these inferences on the eDNA sampling strategy for pelagic fish facilitated further investigations into the temporal utilisation of eDNA sampling for the highly migratory Atlantic bluefin tuna (ABT). Whereby surface water eDNA samples were collected from smaller, more cost effective, research vessels from summer to winter. I found that using this method ABT was detected across seasons while also revealing the presence of important potential prey species and marine predators providing useful information for future monitoring surveys. Additionally, the results of this thesis revealed significant correlations between the current trawl-validated and eDNA-validated hydroacoustics of pelagic fish. Fish species that were more abundant and widespread had stronger correlations, yet there were still large variances between species and sample years. Overall, this thesis demonstrates that eDNA can be used to verify the abundance of pelagic fish and suggests that the eDNA methods for validation are more appropriate for specific, high abundant, fish species where the DNA in the water column is more easily detected.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: eDNA; marine; fish monitoring; hydroacoustics
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2023 12:26
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2024 00:50
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00018789
Supervisors: Mariani, S
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/18789
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