Environmental DNA (E-DNA) Metabarcoding in the Canadian Arctic

In 2015, the Stetefeld lab started to employ eDNA based screening approaches to detect OUT’s as a powerful means to assess biodiversity alterations based on climate change and industry activities. Thereby, we take advantage of the fact that (i) DNA is the hereditary material in every organism, (ii) the chemical structure of DNA is the same for all organisms, however, (iii) differences in DNA profiles exist which allow us to precisely identify species, populations, and even individuals.

eDNA metabarcoding technologies provide rapid, non-invasive and cost effective screening tools that are not only complementary to traditional visual taxonomy. More importantly, eDNA can be used to monitor biodiversity a/o invasive species.

The Stetefeld lab is combining in a unique strategy in-depth Water quality assessment with eDNA metabarcoding technology to measure fish species assemblage. It is envisioned to expand our studies to explore Caribou migration in the Baker Lake area. Our approach addresses urgent questions about the impact of climate change and the impact of industry activities on Inuit people in the Canadian Arctic.

As part of our collaborative strategy, Members of the Kivalliq Inuit Association (KIA) attended the 1. eDNA workshop held at COGRAD 2/2019.

The main objective is to coach enhanced water sampling procedures and key steps in eDNA analysis.

It is our vision to combine traditional knowledge with cutting-edge research in close collaboration with local residents.

The Senate of Canada invited us to a Special Committee – Arctic Framework meeting in 2019 to present our vision on significant and rapid changes to the Arctic and the impacts on original inhabitants.

The unique combination of assessing water quality and performing eDNA metabarcoding within the “One Voice” initiative by KIA will allow for a direct measure of changes in the fish populations together with potential changes in the water quality.