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IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC)

Advancing knowledge and cooperation for a healthy ocean and prosperous society

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Phuket Marine Biological Center, Phuket, Thailand

27-29 November 2023

1. Background

Coral reefs and seagrass meadows are critical habitats for maintaining fish populations that support sustainable livelihoods and economy. While the human activities and climate change have been escalating, our conservation efforts have been constrained by limited knowledge about their impacts on marine biodiversity. Comprehensive baseline information about species diversity, richness, distribution and their migration patterns is essential to develop conservation measures and secure those measures will be effective. However, conventional methods for monitoring marine biodiversity are difficult to scale up to cover the entire coastline of countries.

Environmental DNA (eDNA) has recently attracted considerable attention for its potential in measuring marine biodiversity, due to its cost effectiveness and without the need to extract organisms from their environment.

Despite some limitations of eDNA protocols, such as inadequate regional fish barcode data,  limited sampling efficiency and laboratory protocols, the eDNA-based fish monitoring has been gradually applied in different marine ecosystems, with significant improvement made in the last few years.

As an initial effort, The IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) in partnership with the Marine and Coastal Resources Research and Development Institute (Thailand), and the Nanjing University (China),will organize a training workshop at the Phuket Marine Biological Center, Thailand to introduce how the eDNA method could be used for researching and monitoring fish communities in coastal habitats.

2. Objectives:

  • To develop the capacity of researchers for using the eDNA method to monitor fish communities in essential marine ecosystems;
  • To transfer knowledge on, and exchange experience in the eDNA data analysis and assessment on the status of fish communities;
  • To build partnerships and networks, and explore the possibility of a potential regional programme using eDNA monitoring for marine ecosystem management.

3. Contents of the training workshop

This technical training will consist of theory lectures, practical demonstration, and professional on-site sample collection, including:

  1. Barcode database of marine fish, including consideration of national and international barcode database development;
  2. Primer selection and spatial layout design for eDNA monitoring;
  3. eDNA sample collection and processing;
  4. Quantitative PCR/digital PCR biological monitoring technology; and
  5. Data process and evaluation of eDNA biomonitoring.

4. Expected outputs

  1. Comprehensive knowledge learnt on the process of conducting the eDNA monitoring, including sampling design, sample analysis, data processing and deposition, and interpretation of data to inform marine ecosystem management, particularly on fish communities;
  2. Collaborations established with a concrete plan on the eDNA research and monitoring.

5. Venue

The training workshop will take place at the Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC), Phuket Thailand.

PMBC will provide relevant meeting and lab facilities for the training workshop, such as a lecture room, labs with essential equipment for primary preparation and preservation of samples for further process.

6. Tentative Agenda

Day 1

Lecture 1: Significance of eDNA biomonitoring and its applications in the marine ecosystem

Lecture 2: Principle and technical guideline I – Field sampling

Lecture 3: Principle and technical guideline II – Lab preparation

Day 2

Lecture 4: Principle and technical guideline III – Nucleic acid testing 

Lecture 5: Principle and technical guideline IV – Data analysis 

Field trip (Demonstration and practice of eDNA sampling with equipment)

Day 3

Lab practice (Sample processing and testing)

Brainstorming discussion and wrap up