Tracking climate change

Created at January 12, 2024

Experts at the University of Trier are successfully using mussels as DNA collectors to study the changes in biological communities over the last decades

Experts at Trier University have used a four-decade time series of archived mussels to track the spatio-temporal change in biodiversity in coastal ecosystems. The mussels of the Environmental Specimen Bank, which have so far been collected primarily for pollution monitoring, can serve as natural eDNA collectors. By sequencing the environmental DNA preserved in the mussels, the communities in the mussel environment are characterised, including the barnacle Austrominius modestus. Based on the time series of the mussels, the spread of the invasive barnacle can be tracked. Climate change favours the spread of the barnacle. In cold winters, the populations of this heat-adapted species collapse. However, such events are becoming fewer and fewer, which helps the barnacle to establish itself in the habitats and spread.

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