FROM GENES TO ECOSYSTEMS: ASSESSING THREATENED FRESHWATER BIODIVERSITY WITH MOLECULAR TOOLS
Jan Macher (Aquatic Ecosystem Research – University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany) | February 02, 2018 – 16h00 | CIBIO-InBIO’s Auditorium, Campus de Vairão, Portugal
As a consequence of anthropogenic action, freshwater ecosystems have been drastically degraded over the past centuries with severe consequences for biodiversity and ecosystem function. To counteract degradation, many restoration efforts from small and local to large international catchment-spanning activities have been launched. Here, macroinvertebrates are central indicators to quantify the loss of biodiversity in response to anthropogenic stressors and its subsequent recovery. Unfortunately, determination of macroinvertebrates with morphological methods, specifically of their juvenile stages, is difficult and frequently leads to incorrect results. In addition, the level of genetic variation is not included in the contemporary approaches. Therefore, current assessments are limited in their power to gain deeper process understanding. The talk will outline how genetic and genomic tools can be routinely applied to study responses of macroinvertebrates to stressors. Using case studies from Europe and New Zealand, it is shown how the impact of stressors on populations and communities can be studied using genetic data. Critically important responses of biodiversity are overlooked when only relying on morphological data and techniques such as DNA-(meta)barcoding can be routinely integrated into biodiversity assessment to improve knowledge on biodiversity responses to environmental stressors.
Jan Macher is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. He studied Molecular Freshwater Biology in Germany, Japan and New Zealand. His main research focus is the impact of anthropogenic stressors on freshwater invertebrate species and communities. He is currently using DNA barcoding, metabarcoding and metagenomic techniques to study the consequences of stressor impacts on taxonomic and functional diversity in freshwater ecosystems.
Image credits: Jan Macher