Identifying and quantifying entrained larval fishes using eDNA and metabarcoding
Monitoring biodiversity using DNA-based approaches has many advantages for large-scale studies. DNA metabarcoding can assess the presence, absence, and abundance of species in a sample where individuals are not morphologically identifiable, such as bulk samples of larval fishes or from environmental DNA (eDNA) in water samples. We propose to develop a high-throughput metabarcoding-based approach that will quantify fishes entrained by the water-cooling system at Bruce Power. This approach will determine the presence or absence of species based on the DNA obtained from bulk larval tissue and eDNA samples. The abundance of each species will be estimated by the proportional representation of each DNA sequence in the sample or by assigning sequences to individuals using approaches similar to those in forensic investigations. These methods will provide a more efficient system for long-term entrainment monitoring and will improve estimates of species loss used to inform mitigation and offsetting practices.