Environmental DNA and participatory science to map groundwater fauna

Figure 1 from https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-44908-8

In our most recent study, published in Scientific Reports (https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-44908-8), we used participatory science and environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding to investigate groundwater amphipods and to capture a broader picture of the groundwater community, including microorganisms. Combining both methods revealed co-occurring amphipod species and their correlation with overall groundwater biodiversity, enhancing our understanding of subterranean ecosystems. In conclusion, we propose two novel methods for studying groundwater organisms, which can be applied independently or, more effectively, in combination. These approaches offer valuable tools for addressing uncharted aspects of subterranean biology.

Environmental DNA in groundwater

Through close cooperation with local waterproviders in the Töss catchment area, we were able to detect a diverse groundwater fauna. The corresponding publication has just been published in Molecular Ecology (https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.16955). In contrast to earlier studies, we did not have to use nets and actually catch the organisms, but were able to detect them on the basis of DNA traces in water samples. We were able to show that the diversity of groundwater fauna differs depending on whether the samples were taken from agricultural or forested sites. However, it is not yet possible to make a statement about the cause or to do a water quality assessment. Eawag has published a news article on the publication. Many thanks also to the FOEN, the SVGW and Eawag for their financial support of the research project.

An insight into foodwebs of alpine streams


Finally, the latest paper I was involved during my Masters got released: “A note on the trophic structure of alpine streams in the Wind River Mountains, Wyoming, USA” in Fundamental & Applied Limnology. The results suggest a glacial carbon signature in stream foodwebs close to the glacier. Further a longitudinal shift in carbon sources was observed in these streams, from a glacial to an instream source and finally to a allochthonous source when moving along the system. Thanks again to the whole team. Riding to the remote sites and sampling was great fun and an exciting adventure.