In February 2020, Alica Ohnesorge, PhD student at the Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity (HIFMB) at the University of Oldenburg, and a member of the DYNAMO and CoastCarb projects, had the chance to travel to Punta Arenas, Chile. In close cooperation with Ricardo Giesecke from Centro IDEAL, the idea of her visit was to test and verify the environmental DNA (eDNA) method of her PhD project along the Strait of Magellan and the Beagle Channel (BC) areas. This method, put in simple terms, allows the identification of different organisms by tracing its DNA in the water column. As species interact with the environment, they will continuously expel DNA to their surroundings, so we can detect the presence of an organisms just by tracking its DNA in the environment, without the need of collecting the organisms itself. This tool allows us to have a good coverage of species biodiversity monitoring in this ecosystem. The BC connects the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans and if successfully applied, this could be the used for a whole range of interesting scientific questions: what species can be found in which part of BC? Is there a certain gradient of species composition along the BC? Linked to glacial meltwater, where do we find freshwater species?
After successfully conducting a first pilot study along the Strait of Magellanes, the idea was to conduct two to three different sampling trips along BC. Unfortunately, this was when the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic occurred, which ultimately let to a cancellation of such sampling trips. However, we would like to mention that during this first pilot study Alica was accompanied and received great help from Paula Martis Winter, a Master student at the Instituto de Ciencias Marinas y Limnológicas at the Universidad Austral de Chile (UACh).
Due to the Covid-19 situation, Alica had to cancel her stay in Chile and return to Oldenburg in March 2020. At this point it is unclear if the sampling trips will take place at a later date. However, in the gallery below you can find some impressions of Alica´s time in Chile.