Environmental DNA in Water Can Be Used to Count the Number of Fish

Researchers have reported a new method for estimating population abundance of fish species by means of measuring the concentration of environmental DNA in the water.

Results of the research conducted by experts from the National Institute for Environmental Studies, Tohoku University, Shimane University, Kyoto University, Hokkaido University and Kobe University in Japan were published in Molecular Ecology.

According to a report in Phys.org, the study highlights the possibility of quantitative, non-invasive monitoring of aquatic ecosystems.

Keiichi Fukaya, the lead author of the study and research associate at the National Institute for Environmental Studies, said DNA molecules that are released by organisms are transported by the flow of water and eventually get degraded.

“This complicates and limits the traditional approach of population quantification based on environmental DNA where the presence of a definite relationship between the concentration of environmental DNA and population abundance has been critical,” Fukaya explained.

He added that the team thought that the fundamental processes of environmental DNA should be accounted for when they estimate population abundance through environmental DNA.

Study authors created a numerical hydrodynamic model that simulates the distribution of environmental DNA concentrations within an aquatic area.

According to Fukaya, by solving the model in an inverse direction, study authors can estimate fish population abundance based on the observed distribution of environmental DNA concentrations.

According to a study in Maizuru Bay, Japan, researchers confirmed that the population abundance of Japanese jack mackerel obtained using the method, was similar to that of an echo sounder method.

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