Environmental DNA for fish biodiversity monitoring

Finding Fish By Molly Czachur Marine biodiversity is a rich and colourful display of what the natural world has to offer. Whilst large whale sharks are gliding through the oceans, the nearby coastal mangrove forests are acting as a vital nursery ground that is teeming with the microscopic larvae of future fish generations. The closer…

Young Science Communicator Winner

I am pleased to announce that I have won the ‘open’ category for Young Science Communicator of 2018 with NRF-SAASTA! My entry below, named “Finding fish“, illustrates our environmental DNA research through cartoon! This exciting work is being carried out in the von der Heyden lab at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, in collaboration with the Molecular Ecology…

Exciting new tool for marine conservation: environmental DNA

Fish and other aquatic animals shed DNA into the surrounding water. This means that seawater is filled with the DNA of the animals living there, and this is known as environmental DNA (eDNA). Scientists have used environmental DNA to study a range of animals, from earlier eDNA studies in 2008 (e.g. on the invasive American Bullfrog),…

Celebrating #MangroveActionDay with @MangroveProject

Here’s one of my photo entries for the MAP mangrove photo competition! This photo was taken at the Mikoko Pamoja book launch, where Mikoko Pamoja carbon funds earnt by the community were spent on boosting local education. You can enter the photography competition too by clicking here. Mangroves are community Mangroves are capable of storing…

How does mangrove carbon offset work?

  Coastal livelihood and mangroves Coastal villages often heavily rely on fishing for livelihood, and also often have houses and buildings close to the shore. Areas of coast with mangrove forests benefit from the mangroves supporting large fisheries, and also protecting the shoreline from erosion and sedimentation. Although these benefits are significant to the local…

Romantic sunrise with the crabs

Sunrise in the mangroves is a dream! I’ve learnt so much about them over the past few weeks and it’s amazing sitting here watching all the burrowing crabs emerge from their burrows and sassily throw sand around!As soon as I move, all the crabs return to their burrows, so I have no photos… but now…

Sustainable livelihoods

Today we visited the fish ponds in Makongeni, South Kenya. There is a local group in the village (90% women) who run the fish ponds. They gain benefits for the community (from selling the fish product) whilst avoiding using and degrading the local mangrove ecosystem. There are five fish ponds, with milkfish of different life…

Monkey take over

Much to my excitement, our dinner hut was full of monkeys when we came back for lunch! They scarpered as soon as we walked in (unfortunately… as I was in awe!). They were climbing all over the surrounding trees and roofs, and stared at us whilst we ate! It looks like the black-faced vervet monkey…

A day off in Kenya 

I’ve arrived in Kenya for my 6 month research trip with Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI). It’s a day off work for my first day in Kenya (it’s Sunday). I had the worlds juiciest mango for breakfast, and the worlds most flavoursome beans for lunch. I met some lovely people and got so…

Sea urchin respirometry

I have been working out how much my sea urchins are using up oxygen using closed chamber respirometry jars. The amount of oxygen consumed by the urchins is an indicator of metabolism, and possibly stress. To measure the oxygen content of the seawater in the jar, I can place a fiber optic cable onto the…