In the context of assessing and better understanding spatial and temporal patterns of marine biodiversity and their changes, the HIFMB Focus Group on Marine Molecular Ecology helps to estimate marine metazoan biodiversity by using novel molecular genetic tools for the simultaneous identification of many species in marine assemblages and communities.
By the evaluation of multispecies identification approaches to describe marine communities, including the establishment of best-practice work flows, we contribute to a better understanding how the genetic material in the environment (environmental DNA, eDNA) mirrors the biodiversity in the field. Here, a central issue is the estimation of the methodological sensitivity and possible errors to describe the present status of marine metazoan communities. With this, the Focus Group evaluates biodiversity from genetic data to be compared or supplemented to conventional methods assessing biodiversity. Together with HIFMB scientist and collaborators, we aim at integrating eDNA analyses in biodiversity research to draw the big picture on community compositions, structures and functions, interactions in communities and their responses in relation to biotic and abiotic conditions and changes.