Scientists Plan To Create First Aquatic Species Map For US West

Posted: Nov 28 2016, 5:12am CST | by , Updated: Nov 28 2016, 5:17am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Scientists Plan to Create First Aquatic Species Map for West US
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The map will help researchers see how biodiversity and ecosystems change over time and how to protect native species

Western United States will soon have its first detailed map of aquatic species.

The map will highlight biodiversity in every river and stream in west part of the U.S. and could help management make the best use of their time and limited money and resources allotted for the conservation.

Project leader Dan Isaak, a biologist from U.S. Forest Service fisheries says. “It’s kind of the Holy Grail for biologists to know what a true biodiversity map looks like. To have that formatted digitally so you can do lots of science with it will be transformative in terms of the quality of information we'll have to conserve species.”

The map will provide information on every species found in the west waters from insects to fish to otters and this will be made possible by analyzing their DNA from water samples. Moreover, it could provide snapshots of rivers and streams so researchers can see how biodiversity and ecosystems change over time. The map will help track and cull invasive species. 

The infestation of non-indigenous plants and animals has been escalated throughout the U.S. including western region. Because invasive organisms are not native to specific location, they can have widespread destructive consequences on local ecosystems like habitat loss, extinction of native species and communities.

Since the project will be ungraded on regular basis, the involvement of many entities including citizen scientists will be imperative. The trove of information will allow researchers to identify multiple species at a time from one sample, which would otherwise not have been possible.

“Any time science undertakes large projects like this, the payouts can be in directions you don't expect.” Michael Schwartz, the Forest Service's director of the National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation in Missoula, Montana. 

The map will also use millions of temperature recordings going back decades and will help detect rise in temperatures. It will ultimately be used to identify streams that could serve as a refuge for cold water species, if global warming continues.

The first Aquatic Environmental DNA Atlas will be available by next summer for the public.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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