eDNA metabarcoding as a promising conservation tool to monitor fish diversity in water system

Fish diversity, an important indicator of the health of aquatic ecosystems, is declining sharply due to water pollution, overfishing, climate change, and species invasion. For protecting fish diversity, effective surveying and monitoring are prerequisites. In this study, eDNA (environmental DNA) metabarcoding and ground cages were used to survey the fish diversity of the Chaobai and Beiyun Rivers in Beijing. Based on the two methods, we identified 40 species, belonging to 35 genera, 18 families, and six orders.

The richness of fish identified by eDNA metabarcoding was significantly higher than that captured by ground cages in both rivers. The fish captured by the ground cage method were all recognized by eDNA metabarcoding, except Squalidus wolterstorffi and Saurogobio dabryi, which were captured only in ground cages.

The correlation of relative abundance between the two methods was affected by the properties of the rivers, such as the flow rate. Fish caught by ground cage in the Beiyun River were identified by eDNA, but not in the Chaobai River. Our results also suggest that the Chaobai River has higher fish diversity than the Beiyun River and different community assemblage.

In addition to differences in the natural properties of the focal rivers, the development of urbanization is also an important contributor to different community structures overserved. eDNA metabarcoding as a new survey tool has great application prospects, it provides certain theoretical data and methodological references for the protection and management of river fish diversity.

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