ICES Annual Science Conference 2023

Theme session F

Integration of molecular tools for biodiversity, risk assessment, and ecosystem advice within a changing climate

Monday 11 September
13:00–15:00 and 15:30–17:30
Room 0A
​​​​​​​​​​​Traditional microscopic methods are used for monitoring and assessing marine species biodiversity and community structures. Improved detection of species and community characterization can be achieved by employing molecular tools on environmental DNA (eDNA) samples such as metabarcoding, high-throughput sequencing (HTS), and quantitative and digital PCR (qPCR and PCR). Molecular tools facilitate the detection and quantification of organisms present in low abundance and species of concern and help in the characterization of protist species either undetectable or undeterminable with traditional microscopy. These methods are commonly used for academic science, but so far their use in official purposes or in policy are minimal, particularly for phytoplankton, microbes and invertebrates' communities. Reasons for this are various, including lack of consistent method standardisation, data management, training and inter-disciplinary work. Given the possibility of access to rare abundances and their specific and objective species characteristics, molecular tools are especially relevant for assessing changes in biodiversity because of the introduction of non-indigenous species due to climate change effects. This is particularly relevant for invasive species or toxic/harmful species which can have an economic or environmental impact on ecosystems and human health. Additionally, there are few examples of molecular tools used across different trophic levels, however some molecular generated data are now integrated into marine ecosystem models. 

This theme session provides an opportunity to discuss the current molecular tools available and the approaches which have been implemented in assessing biodiversity case studies, to review the challenges facing the routine implementation of these molecular tools in regulatory and long-term monitoring programmes, and to explore the best tools to contribute to specific policy and marine management decisions.

Three key topics will be addressed:

  • Potential harmonization and standardization of protocols used for various molecular approaches to facilitate the comparison among studies and monitoring programs as well as the strategy to disseminate the information. It is timely to compare experiences, standardise protocols to find a satisfactory mechanism for targeting the organisms of interest, such as harmful microalgae and non-indigenous species.
  • Applying generated molecular datasets to long term time series, development of methods that improve uptake or accessibility, comparison of molecular datasets with other method datasets, and their potential integration with widely used datasets e.g. PANGAEA, OBIS.
  • The potential to utilize these tools through case studies using science-based advice for strategic planning (including coastal monitoring and management), policy development and operational processes in providing additional data on areas regarding biodiversity, bioinvasions, climate change and modelling.

The session may result in the publication of an ICES Cooperative Research Report or a review article, depending on the number of participants and the variety of the research fields.​

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Theme session F

International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) · Conseil International pour l'Exploration de la Mer (CIEM)
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