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Biofouling sponges as natural eDNA samplers for marine vertebrate biodiversity monitoring

Cai, W, MacDonald, B, Korabik, M, Gradin, I, Neave, EF, Harper, LR, Kenchington, E, Riesgo, A, Whoriskey, FG and Mariani, S (2024) Biofouling sponges as natural eDNA samplers for marine vertebrate biodiversity monitoring. The Science of the Total Environment, 946. ISSN 0048-9697

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Environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis has now become a core approach in marine biodiversity research, which typically involves the collection of water or sediment samples. Yet, recently, filter-feeding organisms have received much attention for their potential role as natural eDNA samplers. While the indiscriminate use of living organisms as 'sampling tools' might in some cases raise conservation concerns, there are instances in which highly abundant sessile organisms may become a nuisance as biofouling on artificial marine structures. Here we demonstrate how a sea sponge species that colonizes the moorings of the world's largest curtain of hydroacoustic receivers can become a powerful natural collector of fish biodiversity information. By sequencing eDNA extracted from Vazella pourtalesii retrieved from moorings during routine biofouling maintenance, we detected 23 species of marine fish and mammals, compared to 19 and 15 species revealed by surface and bottom water eDNA respectively, and 28 species captured by groundfish survey in the surrounding area, which are more ecologically impactful and involve higher additional costs. Sponge-based species inventories proved at least as informative as those obtained by traditional survey methods, and are also able to detect seasonal differences in fish assemblages. We conclude that opportunistic sampling of marine sponge biofouling may become an efficient way to document and monitor biodiversity in our rapidly changing oceans.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Biodiversity assessment; Environmental DNA; Fish biodiversity; Marine management; Vazella pourtalesii; Environmental Sciences
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Elsevier
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2024 16:01
Last Modified: 15 Jul 2024 11:00
DOI or ID number: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.174148
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/23674
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