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Environmental DNA (eDNA) monitoring of priority conservation fish species in UK lentic ecosystems

Di Muri, Cristina


Cristina Di Muri


B. (Bernd) Hänfling


Freshwater environments cover only a tiny fraction of the planet’s surface, yet they are biodiversity hotspots and support almost half of the global fish diversity, including globally and locally endangered species. In the UK, three species of national conservation value namely, Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus L.), European whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus L.) and vendace (Coregonus albula L.), are threatened throughout their limited distribution range by a number of human-driven environmental changes.

To combat a further loss of these priority conservation fish, non-invasive, sensitive and reliable monitoring tools are required to assess their status and guide appropriate conservation measures. Advances in the field of environmental DNA (eDNA) have shown the potential of this tool to detect low-abundant species, however the actual application of eDNA methods (e.g. targeted and metabarcoding) for rare species monitoring has been mostly limited to the collection of presence/absence information.

The scope of this thesis is to explore novel aspects of eDNA metabarcoding including the ability to estimate fish biomass/abundance, determine fish spawning and assess distribution and abundance of priority conservation fish across a variety of UK lentic systems. This thesis provides evidence that eDNA metabarcoding accurately reflects absolute fish biomass and abundance in high fish density ponds, and quantitative estimates are repeatable between different methods of DNA capture. This thesis demonstrates that eDNA metabarcoding determines location, timing and effort of Arctic charr spawning and can be as sensitive as quantitative PCR. Lastly, eDNA metabarcoding provides accurate information of Arctic charr, vendace and European whitefish distribution and abundance in UK lentic systems including sites of special conservation interest.

The fish community information obtained from eDNA metabarcoding is, therefore, beneficial to predict future changes in distribution and abundance of priority conservation fish as well as to design appropriate management actions, and can enormously contribute to more efficient monitoring programmes in UK lentic systems.


Di Muri, C. (2020). Environmental DNA (eDNA) monitoring of priority conservation fish species in UK lentic ecosystems. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Apr 21, 2021
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Biological sciences
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Biological & Marine Science, The University of Hull
Award Date Oct 1, 2020


Thesis (5 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2020 Di Muri, Cristina. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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