Year of grant:
Náttúra og náttúrutilfeingi
Faroese Marine Ecosystem Observatory Study (FAMEOS): Nýtsla av umhvørvis DNA í kanningum av vistskipanum í havinum
Eilif Gaard, Sólvá Jacobsen, Durita Sørensen, Katja Metfies, Halina Tegetmeyer,
Grant from the FRC in DKK:
FAroese Marine Ecosystem Observatory Study (FAMEOS): Integrating DNA_based estimates of diversity with essential Ocean Variables
The oceans are critical for our survival. They produce half the oxygen we breathe, provide over 1/6th of the protein we consume and mitigate climate change by absorbing anthropogenic carbon dioxide. In the Faroe Islands interdependency with the coastal marine ecosystem is especially profound with the value of fisheries resources to the Faroese economy continuing to rise. Although the critical importance of the oceans is easily acknowledged, perhaps less well appreciated is that conditions in our oceans are changing rapidly and are subject to unknown trajectories and tipping points. Natural and anthropogenic pressures are currently manifested in changes to the physical and biogeochemical conditions of our oceans that are likely to affect marine ecosystem structure with obvious consequences for marine resource provision. It is now considered critical to develop observing systems that integrate physical, geochemical and biological elements to characterize marine ecosystem health and understand the societal consequences of natural and anthropogenic pressures. Sustained observations of important attributes of coastal ecosystems, especially biodiversity, are often lacking and this limits the capacity to report on changes in status and guide management decisions.
The current project aims to establish a coastal ecosystem observatory on the Faroese shelf that integrates DNA-based estimates of diversity across different trophic compartments with the biogeochemical properties of seawater. A novel high throughput sequencing metabarcode approach will be applied to environmental DNA samples collected at the coastal station Skopun that represents the wider shelf area due to strong tidal mixing. Ribosomal and mitochondrial DNA will be sequenced to provide biodiversity data for bacteria, phytoplankton, marine invertebrates and fish from a single seawater sample. The potential for metabarcoding biodiversity assessment to accurately represent ecosystem structure on the Faroese Shelf will be examined by comparing sequencing datasets with classical morphological based identification of phytoplankton, marine zooplankton and fish. Parallel measurements of the physical and chemical properties of seawater will be carried out that conform to the globally endorsed concept of essential ocean variables. The datasets originating from the project will be used to provide a baseline for biodiversity and integrated ecosystem structure of Faroese shelf waters that can form the basis of a sustained observation system.