Fish Barcoding and Functional Ecological Workshop
A fish photo taken ready for analysis using ImageJ and MorFishJ
Marine and coastal fisheries contribute significantly to Africa’s economy and play significant social and nutritional roles in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, escalation of numerous pressures, including overexploitation, climate change and pollution are immensely threatening marine biodiversity and fisheries in Africa.
For example, coral reefs in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) suffered a dramatic loss of live coral cover and a 2.5-fold increase in algal abundance following the first severe global bleaching event in 1998. Consequently, the structure of associated fish communities has changed in many coastal regions of the WIO, but quantitative data on the impact of these changes are scarce.
Currently there is strong scientific interest on identifying drivers of change and deducing whether these causes are related to evolutionary constrains (i.e., can phylogenetic relatedness explain observed biodiversity patterns). To address gaps in monitoring marine and coastal systems in Africa, Far-LeaF research fellow Dr Levy Otwoma together with his counterparts Dr. Achim Meyer, Dr. Sonia Bejerano, and Professor Oscar Puebla from the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research, organized a workshop on Fish Barcoding and Functional Ecology to enhance the monitoring of the status of marine and coastal systems in Africa.
The workshop, which was funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, focused on compiling, and sharing both theoretical knowledge and practical laboratory skills and attracted 25 participants from 11 countries - Belgium, Germany, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.
Dr Otwoma highlighted the importance of population connectivity information in the management of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Western Indian Ocean. “MPAs in the WIO can reverse climate change and human-induced stressors on coral reefs, but they should be created to match with dispersal capability of the species being protected. Stakeholders in the WIO yearning for a network of MPAs, need also to make sure that these protected areas are linked to each other, to ensure the source and sink populations of vulnerable species are protected”.
The four-weeks workshop combined an online format (two weeks) with 10 days of in-person training at the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute in the coastal city of Mombasa, Kenya between the 3rd and 14th of October. The in-person part involved training the participants to use the software MorFishJ and ImageJ to characterize fish morphology. In addition, participants were trained on tissue preservation for molecular analysis, different DNA extraction methods, DNA amplification through the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and molecular data handling and analysis methods.
During a two-day symposium, participants shared their exciting research findings with topics ranging from the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) in biomonitoring and conservation to the taxonomy and genetic diversity of various fish species.
Participants at the last day of the in-person training at KMFRI dolphin conference hall, Mombasa Kenya
A fish photo was taken and ready for analysis using ImageJ and MorFishJ. Participants receiving instructions from Dr Achim Meyer left for the molecular training.
During a two-day symposium, participants shared their exciting research findings with topics ranging from environmental DNA (eDNA) in biomonitoring and conservation to various fish species’ taxonomy and genetic diversity.
Additionally, participants also heard dynamic talks from various keynote speakers who included Professor Oscar Puebla (ZMT), Dr Sonia Bejarano (ZMT), Dr Levy Otwoma (KMFRI), Dr Achim Meyer (ZMT), Dr Sammy Wambua (Pwani University) and Dr Monica Mwale (SANBI- South African National Biodiversity Institute).
Article submitted by Levy Otwoma
Dr Levy OtwomaOceanography and Hydrography department
Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute
The Future Africa Research Leader Fellowship (FAR-LeaF) is a fellowship programme, focussed on developing transdisciplinary research and leadership skills, to address the complex, inter-linked challenges of health, well-being, and environmental risks in Africa.
WOMEN’S LAND RIGHTS AND AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA
Women play an essential role in agriculture in Nigeria, as they make up 60% of agricultural labour in this country. Yet, they are considered as farm h...
RAINWATER HARVEST CULTURE COULD BE A SOLUTION TO WATER CHALLENGES
A preliminary analysis of rainwater systems in various parts of Nigeria indicates that groundwater exploration is under pressure in urban areas, and m...
Celebrating #InternationalDayofPeace 2023: Action for peace as the antidote to violence
In celebration of International Day of Peace, also known as World Peace Day, the Future Africa Global Equity in Africa Research Chair joins the United...
Governments must seek win-win synergies by tackling climate and sustainable development crises together, urges expert group report
A groundbreaking report by a group of independent experts commissioned by the United Nations outlines steps governments should take to maximise the im...
Survey research proved that African voices can rise above ‘expert’ narratives – Afrobarometer Chair Gyimah-Boadi
Afrobarometer co-founder and Board Chair E. Gyimah-Boadi told participants in a dialogue hosted by Future Africa at the University of Pretoria that pu...
Future Africa spearheads innovation by deploying transformative research, informing and supporting policy and public action for equitable and sustainable African societies, and inspiring science-based sustainability transformations elsewhere in the world.