Did you know scientists at FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute can detect the different types of fish that swam through an area just by analyzing a water sample?! Our goal is to learn more about the fish living in the Indian River Lagoon— but we need your help!
The importance of citizen science
Citizen science allows participants to make a direct contribution to scientific research while learning more about the natural world and local environmental issues. These opportunities provide a unique way to bridge the gap between scientists and the community, while helping researchers to maximize the amount of data collected on a project. Partnering with FAU Harbor Branch can help us to learn more about the wildlife in our local waters.
What can we learn from eDNA?
As fish swim through the water, they leave behind waste products, mucous and other tiny cells that contain unique genetic material known as environmental DNA (eDNA). By filtering water samples and extracting eDNA, our scientists can determine if a species is present without physically capturing or seeing it! eDNA analysis is an innovative way for FAU Harbor Branch researchers to inventory and monitor fish in the Indian River Lagoon without the use of invasive techniques.
Cutting edge molecular technology
Our scientists use a molecular method called eDNA metabarcoding to assess and group animals living within a complex ecosystem. eDNA metabarcoding works by targeting a unique DNA fragment, or “barcode,” in an animal’s genetic makeup that links it to a particular species. This cutting-edge technology can allow us to identify a multitude of animals, compare species composition among different water samples, and shed light on biodiversity throughout the Indian River Lagoon.
DNAngler Project Goals
By teaming up with local anglers and citizen observers, we hope to collect valuable data that can be used to learn more about and keep track of important fish species that live in the Indian River Lagoon. The information generated from this project is important for managing and conserving local fish populations. Please continue to check this page for project updates as well as the results from citizen-collected water samples!
FAU Harbor Branch launched its first citizen science project, called DNAngler. This initiative uses DNA in water samples that are collected by local anglers to assess fish diversity in the Indian River Lagoon. The kick-off event for this program was hosted at Round Island Park on Saturday July 14th and it was a great success, generating 35 water samples from nearly 100 citizen scientists! Due to the complex and lengthy nature of eDNA processing, results for this project will be posted subsequently to being analyzed. Please stay attentive to the DNAnglers webpage for project updates and future events!