Environmental Barcoding of Aquatic Invertebrates

The EBAI project is funded by the Research Council of Norway and the Norwegian Environment Agency and will test new possibilities to monitor freshwater ecosystems.

In EBAI, researchers will identify species in environmental samples using short, standardized DNA fragments and compare the results with the traditional approach, where samples have been sorted and identified morphologically to species by skilled taxonomists. The DNA based approach (environmental barcoding) has the potential to revolutionize the way we assess and monitor biodiversity in freshwater ecosystems. By introducing this cost-effective, rapid and repeatable technique in nature management, the identification of cryptic, diverse and taxonomically difficult organism-groups (such as many invertebrates) can be assessed and further included in monitoring programs.

The main goals of EBAI are:

  • To develop best-practice guidelines for environmental barcoding of freshwater invertebrates. This includes protocols for sampling, preservation and analysis of sequence data against a high-quality reference library.
  • To test if different approaches to environmental barcoding of benthos samples give good approximations of freshwater invertebrate community compositions, i.e. the relationship between species and their abundance in comparison with traditional methods.