Have you ever tried to count all the different species in a pond? It’s very hard, especially when you try to find all the tiny animals hiding among the weeds. Now, imagine if you wanted to count all the species in the sea! Scientists struggle to monitor life in the ocean because it is so vast and deep. Yet, we need to know exactly what’s down there in order to protect it.
We wanted to use the bits of DNA that organisms leave behind in their environment to work out which species were present. This is called environmental DNA (eDNA). We looked at interactions between different life forms in Monterey Bay, California. We also looked at how they responded to seasonal and environmental change.
We found that different species were present throughout the year. Warmer waters changed what was there. We also found that certain species (such as humpback whales) can be especially useful for telling us about the environment. Environmental DNA proved to be an exciting new method for tracking and protecting life in the ocean!