Environmental monitoring and ecosystem services
Mankind benefits from a variety of ecosystem services. Especially coastal waters have an extraordinary high value when it comes to ecosystem services. Many different industrial, economic and recreational interests meet in coastal areas. For sustainable long-term ecosystem service, these different interests have to find the balance between ecosystem exploitation and ecosystem health. This requires a permanent environmental monitoring.
In the past 200 years, basic research has accumulated a significant knowledge in microbial ecology. Microbes have excellent indicator qualities because they react quickly to changing environmental conditions. These include for example organic pollution, acidification, anoxia, heavy metals, and hydrocarbon contaminations. This knowledge can be used to help monitoring our environment. In specific, we use this knowledge to monitor the environmental impact of aquaculture, a rapidly growing industry worldwide. We develop monitoring tools based on environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding of microbial communities and use these tools for environmental impact assessments of predominantly salmon farming worldwide. A major goal is to develop this tool for implementation into routine monitoring programs and (inter)national water framework directives. Environmental agencies and managers, policy makers and aquafarming industry benefit alike from such a low-cost, fast reliable and efficient eDNA-based monitoring tool.