The species compositions of riverine ecosystems are currently rapidly changing or declining, and we critically depend on reliable and timely information on the occurrence of species. Such information is a prerequisite for the conservation of threatened species, the management of keystone species or as an early-warning tool for the arrival of non-native species.
Information on species occurrences and biodiversity, however, is often only scattered and not available at a high spatial, temporal and taxonomic resolution. We are studying the use and development of environmental DNA (eDNA) techniques to assess biodiversity in aquatic ecosystems. eDNA approaches are promising for the assessment and monitoring of species diversity as well as for the early detection of non-native species. High throughput sequencing techniques allow the identification of organisms ranging from bacteria, to plants and animals.
We are advancing the use eDNA in the context of biodiversity monitoring in riverine ecosystems. Thereby, we are especially interested in its application at the catchment scale, and the identification of organisms across all domains of life. We study the origin, transport and fate of eDNA, and its possible use for understanding community composition and dispersal of organisms within riverine networks.