Recently developed environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding techniques have the ability to rapidly generate large species inventories that can easily describe differences in marine habitats and community types. Particularly relevant for elasmobranchs (sharks and rays), this approach is being implemented to detect previously unrecognized biodiversity features due to the lack of appropriate sampling methods for these organisms. The objective of this study is to highlight areas of unsuspected high conservation value and to follow the seasonal migrations of these species. In this project, we set out to characterize shark and ray communities along the coast of Gabon through the collection and detection of elasmobranch DNA in seawater.
Specifically, we aim to:
(i) identify the dominant elasmobranch species;
(ii) examine the spatial variation of the community, highlighting areas of particular importance for elasmobranchs;
(iii) explore possible temporal patterns over two hydrological seasons.