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SSF-Svalbard Science Forum

Mobilizing the power of eDNA metabarcoding to investigate Arctic aquatic community composition in Svalbard's fjords

Awarded: NOK 0.50 mill.

Project Number:


Project Period:

2022 - 2024

Funding received from:


Partner countries:

Within the scope of this international research network, we aim to conduct an expedition in Longyearbyen and Ny-Ålesund harbours and neighbouring areas to collect eDNA from sediment, marine and freshwater samples, as well as plankton samples. Following eDNA extraction, high-throughput sequencing analysis will be performed using a range of different markers to optimize the recovery of DNA from the targeted groups (mammals, birds, fish, invertebrate, elasmobranch). Several markers targeting 12S, 16S, 18S, CytB and COI will be used to increase the recovery of DNA from specific groups, as efficiency discrepancy has often been observed in metabarcoding primers within the same group. A total of 250 samples (including negative controls) will be sampled within the scope of this study. Following bioinformatic filtering and analysis, community composition of mammals, birds, fish, invertebrate and elasmobranch will be analysed to identify newly invasive or rare species occurrence. It is expected that metabarcoding will provide higher and more accurate resolution of species presence and allow an early detection of newly invading species. Additionally, the abundance of eDNA could reflect important demographic characteristics of communities such as population abundance, migration, and potentially reproduction period of different species. Participants from WUR and WMR received partial funding through the RiS projects 11352 and 11350 to assess the establishment and spreading of newly invasive species on Svalbard marine and freshwater systems. Acquisition of eDNA sampling material and limited sequencing costs has been granted as well as a reduced budget related to boat expenses. This present funding application seeks funding to cover travel (2 persons) and accommodation (7 days in Longyearbyen) from Oslo to Svalbard, travel to and accommodation (5 days) in Ny-Ålesund, additional costs of boating in Longyearbyen and Ny-Ålesund (3 days each) as well as sequencing cost (5 NGS runs).

Funding scheme:

SSF-Svalbard Science Forum