Workshop participants visiting a fish market in Mombasa (Photo Samuel Aponsah)

16/11/2022 | From the 26th of September to the 21st of October 2022, the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) and the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) held a workshop titled “Fish Barcoding and Functional Ecology: Monitoring the Status of Marine Coastal Ecosystems”. The overall goal was to foster biodiversity assessment, promote capacity building in Sub-Sahara Africa and foster inner African as well as international networking activities.

21 participants from 11 countries (Germany, Ghana, Italy, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia) were selected from 120 applications. Made possible by funding from the Volkswagen Foundation, the workshop was jointly organised by Levy Otwoma (KMFRI) and Achim Meyer (ZMT).

During the online preparation for the meeting in Mombasa, presentations were given by renowned speakers via video call, among other things. The workshop included 10 days of in-person training hosted by KMFRI in the eclectic and buzzing town of Mombasa, Kenya, between the 3rd and 14th of October. Part of this training included a two-day symposium where participants got the chance to share their research. Monica Mwale from the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) supported all participants with her encouraging questions and comments from her perspective as a senior researcher in the field of barcoding in Africa.

Hands on Fish Barcoding and Functional Ecology

The practical work comprised all steps from documenting fish morphology from fish market specimens as well as from small freshly collected reef fishes. Here doctoral candidate Mattia Ghilardi from ZMT introduced his plugin MorFishJ to facilitate trait measurements on fish photographs. The workshop also covered tissue storage for genetic work, applied DNA extraction providing one simple and one cost effective protocol, PCR and DNA clean up and ended by collecting PCR products for sequencing.

The very successful workshop has contributed to the strengthening of biodiversity recording in Africa and the careers of young scientists. From the practical experience in this course, a protocol collection on fish barcoding is available here: Booklet Barcoding Protocols Workshop (DOI 10.21244/zmt.2023.002)