Passive capture of marine eDNA presents a solution to an evidence gap in the routine monitoring of inshore fish communities. Records of coastal marine fish biodiversity can be data deficient due to the requirements of high technical and taxonomic skills of surveyors, difficult and varied conditions of underwater habitats, and the mobile, elusive, or cryptic nature of fish.
A novel DNA based method used metaprobes, passive aquatic environmental DNA collection devices, to explore data acquisition on inshore marine fish communities whilst utilising the technical expertise of citizen scientists and existing Natural England survey operations.
Metaprobes were used during dives at Mount Batten, Plymouth; Studland Bay, Dorset; and Orkney, Scotland. All samples (after PCR and PCR purification) except for one (a negative control) had a measurable DNA concentration, 67 OTUs were assigned to bony and cartilaginous fish species with the vast majority falling into the class Actinopterygii (Top 3 represented species; Salmo salar, Trisopterus minutus, Trisopterus esmarkii).
Metaprobes performed well in comparison to active eDNA collection, providing a simpler alternative to labour intensive filtering, showing potential uses outside of Divers (i.e., attachment to other structures) and for expanding our eDNA monitoring using citizen scientists, allowing us to collect more broadscale data on species presence without expensive surveys.