Detective work to find box jellyfish
My project is entitled: Validation of Environmental DNA (eDNA) to detect the cubozoan jellyfish Copula sivickisi
I am working on jellyfish for my Honours degree with Mike and Dean Jerry. Cubozoans have a history of being the culprit for beach closures around the tropics in Australia. However, their temporal and spatial distribution have caused headaches for scientists when trying to determine their distribution, especially species that cause major risk to human life. Based on their small size and cryptic nature, their benthic polyp stages and nursing grounds have yet to be determined. Traditional techniques for jellyfish detection include plankton netting and visual surveys for adult medusa, which have high cost and are labor intensive for the observer. With previous success in detecting rare species in the marine environment. Environmental DNA (eDNA) has shown promise for the identification and presence of lucrative species. However, little is known on its use in jellyfish species, especially cubozoans. The purpose of my honours research is to validate eDNA as a method of detection for Copula sivickisi, a small cubozoan found in abundance off of the coast of Magnetic Island, North Queensland. A section of the 16s mitochondrial gene will be amplified for unequivocal detection of Copula s. and exclusion of all other jellyfish species. Development of manipulative abundance experiments will also be conducted as well as testing in winter months to determine whether or not the methodology developed can detect nursing grounds of this small cubozoan species. The use of both “bucket” and natural experiments will be conducted to provide enough evidence to validate the use of eDNA to detect cubozoan species, specifically Copula sivickisi, which can then be translated to other cubozoan species.