Monmouth University is heading up the environmental DNA portion of the fisheries monitoring plan for the Ocean Winds site. Marine fishes, like all organisms, shed genetic material through various natural processes, leaving behind genetic traces of themselves that we now have the technology to detect and quantify as so-called environmental, or eDNA. Recent research supports the idea that eDNA can supplement traditional capture methods to census marine fishes. The advantages of eDNA include the relatively low cost and high throughput compared to capture methods; the fact that it is a non-invasive and non-lethal method of censusing marine fish populations; and the dispersed nature of eDNA in the ocean compared to the patchy distribution of fishes, leading to perhaps more detections with less sampling. Through comparisons of eDNA and capture surveys of marine fishes in this project we will learn more about this emerging technology and how to best use to understand marine fish community dynamics.
Spiny dogfish captured by drop camera during eDNA bottle casts.