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DNA barcoding to monitor marine mammal genetic diversity
Date:12/30/2013

Marine mammals are flagship and charismatic species, very attractive for the general public. Nowadays, they are also considered as highly relevant sentinel of the marine realm. Their presence and their welfare in an area is thought to indicate the health of the place, whereas their disappearance, their displacement, or a decrease in their abundance or health could reflect negative environmental changes, whether of anthropogenic origin or not.

Monitoring marine mammal biodiversity is often difficult to perform. If some species can be easily observed, others are more difficult to detect, because for instance, of their scarcity or their discrete behavior. One of the solution suggested by scientists is based on the organization of stranding networks, listing and recording marine mammal strandings, which represent a cost-effective means to follow the marine mammal biodiversity.

Researchers from Ocanopolis and from the Laboratory BioGeMME (Biologie et Gntique des Mammifres Marins dans leur Environnement) of the University of Brest, in collaboration with the Parc naturel marin d'Iroise and PELAGIS, have evaluated the usefulness of DNA barcoding in the monitoring of marine mammal biodiversity. They confirmed the species identifications performed by field correspondents, identified degraded carcasses or parts of carcasses, and examined intraspecific genetic variations for the harbour porpoise and the grey seal, undetectable by visual observation.

The conclusions of their study, published in a special issue of the open access journal Zookeys dedicated to DNA barcoding (DNA barcoding: a practical tool for fundamental and applied biodiversity research), are that the use of DNA barcoding in conjunction with a stranding network will clearly increase the accuracy of the monit
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Contact: Jean-Luc Jung
jung@univ-brest.fr
Pensoft Publishers
Source:Eurekalert  

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