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.

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 later in Great Britain compared to other European freshwater locations but had been confirmed in 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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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 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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Anaïs, our Early Stage Researcher who is currently working with our partner AZTI in Spain , recently visited the UK and took part in a workshop at the University of Hull which looked at DNA barcoding and methods of using high throughput sequencing (metabarcoding), types of data analysis (approaches), methods of data analysis (software), and reproducible science.

Anaïs said “I attended to the “Reproducible Metabarcoding Workshop” course at EvoHull ( in Hull University (UK). This 3-days course was very interesting to learn the basics of how to work with metabarcoding data. First, we learned the classic command lines for bioinformatics. Secondly, we worked with a real metabarcoding dataset composed of fish sequences obtained from eDNA sampling.

We explored how to construct a good reference database, how to “clean” the data, the different ways of BLAST and taxonomic classification of  sequences. The main topic of discussion was how to make a study reproducible by for example keeping an electronic laboratory notebook in Open Science Framework (OSF)”. 


October 10th, 2016

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Our Early Stage Researcher Roberta recently traveled to Germany to take part in the Black Forest Summer School – NGS data for Phylogenetics.

The summer school included expert lectures and cutting-edge workshops and gave insight to the attendees on which existing tools are available to process NGS data and to infer phylogenies.

Roberta told us a little more:

“I applied and attended NGS (high-throughput sequencing) workshop during the period of Sep 13th- 16th 2016 in Germany. There we learnt about NGS data processing and how to perform phylogeny. Due to the fact that phylogenetic methods were the main topic of a most presented project we were provided with a lot of helpful suggestions. In my PhD project, I am dealing with green seaweed from Codium genera that are highly cryptic so the necessity for molecular tools utilization is inescapable in order to avoid ineligible risk assessment and early detection of invasive species. Many digital materials were given to the students with explicit examples of possible problems we can face/will be faced in the future. I am really grateful for the opportunity to meet other researchers and exchange my experience with them. Furthermore, many thanks to (Freiburg/Marburg, Germany) joint action with the EVOLTREE, de. NBI and Phycomorph (COST Action FA1406) networks that choose me for participation in the workshop”.
roberta-german-conf    black-forest-sumemr-school

September 23rd, 2016

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An abstract of the Aquainvad-ED project has been accepted by the Committee of Neobiota which will take place in Vianden, Luxembourg in September 2016.

Our poster “Tackling aquatic invasions in Europe: the Aquainvad-ED project” will be presented , further details to follow.


June 20th, 2016

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