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Webinar: Combining eDNA and traditional surveys to study biodiversity in seamount communities

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Thursday, 09 April 2020, 3:00

Thursday, April 9, 2020. 3:00PM. Webinar: Combining eDNA and traditional surveys to study biodiversity in seamount communities. Meredith Everett, NOAA Fisheries Northwest Fisheries Science Center. Sponsored by NOAA Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program. More information here


Seamounts are important habitats in the deep-ocean and are increasingly the focus of national and international conservation efforts. Their structure and local community composition vary depending on location, form, and local oceanic conditions. As with other deep-sea habitats, seamounts can be challenging environments for exploration and surveys. Corals and sponges can be difficult to identify visually, and motile organisms may avoid detection. Sampling is often limited and it is impossible to sample every individual in large, diverse communities. Environmental DNA (eDNA) studies provide a unique way to begin to address whole community diversity on seamounts, capturing a snapshot of a local community and allowing detection of numerous taxa from a single water sample. During the 2018 E/V Nautilus season, 36 eDNA samples were collected at five seamount communities off British Columbia, and 25 eDNA samples were collected from nine seamounts in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. These sampling efforts targeted areas of dense coral and sponge communities, which were highly variable among locations. Representative samples of coral and sponge individuals, as well as high resolution video and still images were collected over the course of the same dives. Combining high throughput amplicon sequencing of the eDNA samples, including markers developed for octocorals, black corals, sponges, and fish, with traditional video and DNA barcode analysis, we have explored whole community diversity around these seamounts. This provides critical baseline information of the structure of these communities for future management of these protected areas.

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