Wildlife Services

Fish Surveys

We have conducted fish surveys on samples from ponds, lakes, rivers, estuaries, coastal areas and the open ocean; from the equator to the North Pole.

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.

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.

SPECIES DETECTED

Because this service uses the metabarcoding approach, we are not testing for the presence of particular fish species ("is species X present?") but instead we are sequencing all of the fish DNA in the sample and identifying it to ask "which fish species are present in this sample?". The species we can identify depend on the completeness of reference databases. In Europe, we can identify the vast majority of freshwater species and a good proportion of marine ones. Below is a list of the species that we have found in water samples in recent months (British & European freshwater and coastal samples):

Perch
Pike
Zander
Ruffe
European eel
Common carp
Crucian carp / goldfish
Grass carp
Silver carp
Silver bream
Common bream
Bleak
Rudd
Roach
Orfe/dace
Three-spine stickleback
Nine-spine stickleback
Fifteen-spine stickleback
Barbel
Burbot
Chub
Atlantic Salmon
Brown trout
Rainbow trout
Coregonus species
Brook charr
Tench
Bullhead
Father lasher
Long-spined sea scorpion
Gudgeon
Grayling
Minnow
Stone loach
Spined loach
Eelpout
Top-mouth gudgeon
Round goby
Rock goby
Sand goby
Black goby
Goldsinny wrasse
Atlantic mackerel
Atlantic horse mackerel
Pacific jack mackerel
Atlantic cod
Poor cod
Arctic cod
European pilchard
Atlantic herring
European anchovy
Flounder
European plaice
Broadnosed pipefish
Sand eel species
Big-scale sand-smelt
Gilt-head bream
Golden mullet
Thin/thick lipped mullet
Haddock
Pollock
Turbot
European bass

 

Seasonality

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.

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