Lori Lawson Handley, University of Hull | December 04 – 15h30 | CIBIO-InBIO’s Auditorium, Campus de Vairão




We are currently experiencing a revolution in how we monitor biodiversity, thanks to developments in molecular techniques such as environmental DNA (eDNA). Studies have repeatedly shown that eDNA is more sensitive - and in many cases more cost-effective - than established methods. Current methods for monitoring lake fish communities are limited by the fact they are either destructive or highly selective. At present, there is no method in place for lake fish monitoring in the UK, despite the fact that it is a legal requirement. We are therefore working closely with the UK government agencies to develop a method for lake fish monitoring based on eDNA metabarcoding. The method has been tried, tested and refined in our main study lake, Windermere, and rolled out to over 100 lakes in England, Scotland and Wales. The method is sensitive, robust and repeatable, and we are now entering the final phase of determining whether the community data is indicative of water quality. In addition to the lake fish project, we have a number of other ongoing eDNA based projects on, for example, ponds, river macroinvertebrates, and invasive species. This talk will focus on our lake fish work, but introduce the range of projects ongoing in the group.


I have a passion for molecular ecology and my research uses DNA based tools such as environmental DNA (eDNA) to monitor biodiversity and understand fundamental ecological and evolutionary processes. I’ve worked on a number of terrestrial and aquatic systems, and animals ranging from mammals to macroinvertebrates, but I’m particularly interested in trying to monitor invasive species and understand their impacts and reasons for success. My favourite model system is the harlequin ladybird, and I’ve been involved in a number of projects investigating its invasion routes, interactions with natural enemies, and impact on native communities. I work closely with a number of stakeholder groups in the UK, such as the Environment Agency, to develop and test eDNA based methods for biodiversity monitoring. For example, we are currently developing tools for lake fish and macroinvertebrate community monitoring, based on eDNA metabarcoding. I am currently a senior lecturer in Ecology and Evolution in the EvoHull group at the University of Hull, and have previously worked at the Universities of Uppsala, Lausanne and Cambridge.



[Host: Bastian Egeter, EnvMetaGen]


Image credits: Ian Winfield