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Marine life around Denmark

Exploring Danish marine biodiversity using environmental DNA

The oceans hold a considerable wealth of biodiversity and resources, but also face increasing threats due to nutrient enrichment, pollution, overfishing and climate change etc. Denmark has 8.750 km of coastline, which represents one of the most unique features of the country, and although some organisms like fish, jellyfish, seaweed etc. are very familiar to most people, the vast majority of marine life is not. This lack of knowledge of our coastal biodiversity is mainly due to a lack of extensive biological surveys and a shortage of taxonomic expertise.

Sequencing of environmental DNA (eDNA) obtained directly from water and sediment samples is an approach that can provide information on entire communities down to the species level in many cases. At Department of Biology, we are continuously developing and improving eDNA methodology and expand the range of scientific questions that can be addressed using eDNA.

The COAST_SEQUENCE project use eDNA from seawater and top sediment to map marine biodiversity in Denmark through extensive sampling along the Danish coastline by researchers as well as a large group of engaged citizen scientists. By massively sequencing DNA from all marine organisms – from microbes to mammals – we will obtain unprecedented insights into the life along our coasts, and coupling this with oceanographic and environmental data, we will try to determine important drivers for the distribution of marine biodiversity in Denmark. The project builds on a partnership between international universities and NGOs. It is funded by the Velux Foundation.