From marine park to future genomic observatory? Enhancing marine biodiversity assessments using a biocode approach

Biodivers Data J. 2019 Dec 10;7:e46833. doi: 10.3897/BDJ.7.e46833. eCollection 2019.

Abstract

Few tropical marine sites have been thoroughly characterised for their animal species, even though they constitute the largest proportion of multicellular diversity. A number of focused biodiversity sampling programmes have amassed immense collections to address this shortfall, but obstacles remain due to the lack of identification tools and large proportion of undescribed species globally. These problems can be partially addressed with DNA barcodes ("biocodes"), which have the potential to facilitate the estimation of species diversity and identify animals to named species via barcode databases. Here, we present the first results of what is intended to be a sustained, systematic study of the marine fauna of Singapore's first marine park, reporting more than 365 animal species, determined based on DNA barcodes and/or morphology represented by 931 specimens (367 zooplankton, 564 macrofauna including 36 fish). Due to the lack of morphological and molecular identification tools, only a small proportion could be identified to species solely based on either morphology (24.5%) or barcodes (24.6%). Estimation of species numbers for some taxa was difficult because of the lack of sufficiently clear barcoding gaps. The specimens were imaged and added to "Biodiversity of Singapore" (http://singapore.biodiversity.online), which now contains images for > 13,000 species occurring in the country.

Keywords: COI; DNA barcoding; biocodes; genomic observatory; marine park.