The main research goal of AQUAINVAD-ED is to exploit novel molecular advances combined with the power of crowd data sourcing (citizen science) to develop innovative methods of early detection, control and management of AIS.

Phillip J. Haubrock (ESR7) began his placement at ECOHYDROS in Maliaño (Cantabria) in September and has accompanied the team on several monitoring trips excursions, this has enabled him to see first hand the freshwater fish diversity and  beautiful scenery in Cantabria.


Some of the most common fish (Common minnow – Phoxinus phoxinus; Brown trout – Salmo trutta) an impressive number of European eels (Anguilla anguilla) and Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) were collected, with only one incidence of invasive Rainbow trouts (Oncorhynchus mykiss) being detected. In the coming weeks, Phillip will begin working on the trophic structure and feeding habits of invasive species in a freshwater lake in Alava.

Phillip said: “I would like to thank everybody from Ecohydros for the warm welcome and the chance to accompany you on your work around Cantabria, which gave me the chance to experience another part of this worlds magnificent nature.”


September 15th, 2017

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Sabine (ESR6) started her placement at AZTI in Sukarrietta, Basque Country in May. She has been taking samples of the macrofauna attached to floating plastics in the Bay of Bizcay from a fishing boat, which during summer is used to remove floating plastic garbage from the sea surface off the French Basque coast.


Many fouled plastic items and fragments were found, carrying a variety of attached animals, from hydrozoan stocks and millimeter-sized sea snails to crabs with a size of several centimeters in diameter. After visual inspection and characterization of the attached fauna, ESR 6 is now conducting genetic barcoding with universal primers, to identify and/or confirm the species found and to ascertain if there were any invasive species present. The attached pictures give an impression of the work conducted on the boat, as well as of the plastic items and animals found.


ESR 6 would like to thank the boat´s captain Arnaud Clavier and the crew for their help and the very friendly reception.


August 22nd, 2017

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Two of the ESRs based at Swansea University have recently taken part in the Postgraduate Seminar Series 2017.


In her session Marta covered her previous research on FosSahul database and Megafauna extinctions in Australia.

‘The fossil record has grown substantially over the last three decades, thus permitting more refined chronologies of major biological events and tests of their underlying causes. These chronologies provide palaeoecological insights into extinction and evolutionary processes that enable better predictions and management of factors driving biodiversity loss. However, more fossil data does not necessarily equate to higher information quality given uncertainties in dating that can lead to incorrect timing of ecological processes. FosSahul is the first quality-rated dataset of nonhuman vertebrate fossils for Sahul (Australia and New Guinea) through the Quaternary to the present (doi:10.1038/sdata.2016.53). Only 23 % of the full set of fossil ages were rated as ‘reliable’, so available ages must be carefully scrutinised before they can be used for building chronologies or timing inferences. We discuss multiple potential applications of this dataset for better understanding the past, present and future of Australia’s history of life’.


Teja’s session looked at her current research i.e. Tackling the freshwater invasive species issues by using  innovative molecular detection methods.

‘Environmental DNA (eDNA) barcoding and metabarcoding methods are currently the most promising techniques for an early detection of aquatic invasive species (AIS). Limiting the impact and spread of AIS requires an appropriate management strategy, focused on effective early detection, evaluation of their dispersal potential and to measure the recolonization success after eradication. The main aim is to develop and optimize eDNA AIS and native species molecular detection techniques based on the combination of eDNA field studies and mesocosm experiments. The following research is based on native and non- native aquatic invertebrate and fish communities found in Welsh freshwater bodies’.


August 18th, 2017

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As part of her research ESR Teja has been working with Cardiff Harbour Authority, here she tells us a little more about the work she has been undertaking.

In 2004  Cardiff Harbour Authority (CHA) discovered a newly introduced invasive species of zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) in the bay which could have been introduced by visiting vessels. This was the first confirmed sighting of zebra mussels in Wales. Killer shrimp (Dikerogammarus villosus) arrived late to Great Britain compared to other European freshwater locations but had been confirmed at Cardiff Bay in November 2010.

Currently both species are present but the extent of their dispersal and threat remains unknown, therefore we have designed an experiment which will be able to measure their biofouling success rates as well as provide rough estimations of their abundance in Cardiff Bay through environmental DNA (eDNA) barcoding technique. Water samples have been collected from 5 different stations where continuous water quality monitoring buoys are established. The sampling points were chosen by the highest possible density variation of species D. villosus and D. polymorpha as well as covering the widest possible environmental conditions within the bay including the outlets of both rivers.

Biofouling success

As a corresponding measure to the environmental DNA barcoding quantification techniques, we have also designed an experiment to measure the biofouling success rate through density and biomass growth of both species. For that reason, we have designed two types of experimental cages and plates, where we will be able to successfully measure the growth rate over a 6 month, warmer period, in the bay.

July 12th, 2017

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Congratulations to our #H2020 ESR Anaïs based at AZTI in Spain !!!

Her review on the potential of genetic tools for ballast water monitoring which she co-wrote with her supervisors Naiara and Oihane has been published in Journal of Sea Research in June 2017




June 30th, 2017

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‘La Voz de Aviles’ a local newspaper is Spain recently published an article on the Citizen Science game “Find the Invasive Seaweed” created by our ESR Roberta Skukan.

June 7th, 2017

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On Monday the 15th of May, our ESR Phillip Haubrock accompanied Thomas Busatto and Dr. Annamaria Nocita from the Natural History Museum “La Specola” on a field trip along the river Elsa in the south-west province of Florence, Tuscany. The aim was a momentary evaluation of the present biodiversity and water quality assessment using the macro benthos at four different locations which are currently affected by the construction of water turbines. Using electro fishing and a set of motivated hands, various fish species were collected, identified, measured and eventually released. Among native species, several alien species such as Pseudorasbora parva, Padogobius nigricans and Procambarus clarkii were identified.

“I really enjoyed this experience of monitoring activity. Not only did I learn a great deal about the taxonomy of local fish species, I also learned a lot about the technique and method applied. Especially seeing such distinct, well-hidden and beautiful places in the Tuscan countryside was incredible.”


May 18th, 2017

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Iva Johovic and Phillip J. Haubrock, our Early Stage Researchers took part in the 2017 MSCA (Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions) Maltese Presidency conference – Mobility takes Research further.

The overall objective of the conference was to discuss and reflect on the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and mobility which is a key requirement of this actions. This was done through sets of debates and TED like speeches from researchers who shared their experiences. Marie Sklodowska-Curie Prizes for the outstanding achievements in 3 categories: “Innovation and Entrepreneurship”, “Communicating Science” and “Contribution to a better society” were given to the best one in each category as a part of the Awards Ceremony.



Phillip J. Haubrock:
“Having the opportunity to attend this conference was incredible. Not just did get a chance to visit an incredibly beautiful place and had the chance to meet many very interesting people in administration, industry and research, but I furthermore had the chance to gain insight into further future possibilities offered by MSCA. During the parallel sessions, I attended the “Ethics in Science” discussion and was astonished by the problems someone usually does not mention when considering fellowships, publications or research in general. I was especially fascinated by the diversity of scholarships and the impressive work various people I met had accomplished due to the possibilities and mobility offered by MSCA.”

Iva Johovic:
“To get the opportunity to see so much amazing scientists from different fields on the one place and to listen to their scientific journey stories and how their ideas led to interesting discoveries and how they managed to improve the world we live in was incredibly motivating for me. The speech held by Martine Reichert, Director-General for Education and Culture reminded me how much I gained by participating in ERASMUS exchange before and how positively cooperation and training I got from different researchers influenced my professional development in the last year and half since I started to be a part of MSCA ITN Aquainvad-ed. I am really glad that the MSCA funds will be increased even more in upcoming years and that even more researchers will have the opportunity to improve their research by the mobility it offers. “

May 18th, 2017

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Our project mid-term meeting and second Advanced Training Course recently took place and was hosted by our project partner AZTI at their offices in Txatxarramendi.

This event provided an ideal opportunity for our Early Stage Researchers to meet and catch up with each other, to present their research to date to the consortium and also to the EC Project Officer and to also take part in training which would enhance their knowledge and understanding of genetic methods and GIS.











May 18th, 2017

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Find out more about what our Early Stage Researchers have been up to in 2016 by reading our ‘Researcher Round-up’ – Aquainvad-ed Research Update Dec 2016



December 19th, 2016

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