Environmental DNA monitoring of pelagic fish fauna at the Hywind Scotland floating wind energy installation – A pilot study
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Environmental impact assessment and regular environmental monitoring are prerequisites for the construction, operation, and decommissioning of offshore installations such as the Hywind Scotland wind park. Molecular approaches are increasingly being considered as a possible complement or alternative to currently used marine baseline and monitoring methods, both for pelagic and benthic organism studies. The following report is a proof-of-concept study where two molecular methods, metabarcoding and quantitative assays, have been used to characterize the pelagic environment at the Hywind Scotland wind park based on filtered water samples from the installation and a reference area. The purpose of the report is to showcase the use of molecular methodology in future studies of the pelagic ecosystem. Metabarcoding was employed for a community view of a) fish species specifically, using the MiFish primer set, and b) a universal eukaryote dataset based on 18S V1-V2 primers. Quantitative assays were employed for two commercially important pelagic fish species: mackerel and herring.