Advancing environmental DNA (eDNA) as a national standardized biomonitoring tool in three oceans, including to support Canada’s Marine Protected Areas Program


Funding period: 2019-2022
Lead: Cathryn Abbott
Total GRDI funding: $365,000

DFO's mandate to protect marine biodiversity, through the expanding Canadian Marine Protected Area (MPA) network and other biodiversity conservation initiatives, necessitates developing innovative approaches for broad-scale marine diversity monitoring. This project seeks to develop and implement a nationally-standardized and field-validated eDNA metabarcoding protocol and bioinformatics pipeline to detect spatial and temporal trends in marine biodiversity, with specific applications to the Canadian MPA network. The development of a high-sensitivity marine biomonitoring approach for surveying a broad taxonomic range at large spatial scales will provide important information on MPA effectiveness, and could inform future site design and associated regulations. This project builds closely on past eDNA marine biodiversity work.


  • He X, Stanley RRE, Rubidge EM, Jeffery NW, Hamilton LC, Westfall KM, Gilmore SR, Roux L-MD, Gale KSP, Heaslip SG, Steeves R, Abbott CL. 2021. Fish community surveys in eelgrass beds using both eDNA metabarcoding and seining: implications for biodiversity monitoring in the coastal zone. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

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For additional information, please contact:
Genomics R&D Initiative