Accurately monitoring fish communities is time consuming, costly, and often stressful for the animals concerned. Moreover, it requires a great deal of survey effort to detect the full range of species present at a site.
eDNA is faster (in terms of field time) and cheaper than traditional survey methods. It is highly sensitive and has no physical impact on animals or the environment.
Research groups worldwide report that eDNA metabarcoding can be more sensitive and powerful than any conventional approach to surveying fish communities. This has now been demonstrated in ponds, streams, rivers, lakes and oceans, and is supported by a wealth of scientific literature.
Our Fish Survey service uses metabarcoding of the 12S gene to characterise the fish diversity in an eDNA sample. The primers are specific to fish, and we use a custom bioinformatics pipeline together with a curated reference database of fish sequences to return high confidence detections. Turnaround time is up to 8 weeks, but large numbers of samples can be processed in parallel.
Fish shed DNA into the water all year round, and so can be monitored throughout the year. However, it may be best to avoid the breeding season when egg releases can cause huge spikes in the amount of DNA of particular species, potentially shrouding other species from detection. It is likely that the DNA results will most accurately reflect relative abundance of the fish during the autumn and winter months.