Problem StatementThe general distribution and genetic characterization of aquatic plant and animal species of commercial or ecological importance have not yet been comprehensively examined in south-eastern Africa. Yet these species have potential to support and secure human livelihoods in the three partner countries participating in this initiative: Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa. Considering this knowledge gap, it is necessary to carry out a comprehensive evaluation of the contemporary aquatic biodiversity in the region.
Project ObjectivesThe main objective of the current phase of the Trilateral Research Initiative is to assess and document the distribution patterns and genetic composition of coastal and freshwater animals in the three partner countries. This will be achieved by targeted DNA barcoding of selected species (fish and invertebrates that are important in subsistence fisheries), and by environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding of entire communities. For the next three years, we will focus specifically on the poorly studied Zambezi River fauna, as well as estuarine communities in Mozambique and the tropical north-east coast of South Africa.
Expected Outcomes and BenefitsThe project is expected to result in the establishment of a regional genetic database, in the form of DNA barcodes and auxiliary genetic and morphological data, which may be employed for the management of shared resources. This database will be publicly available and should help to establish regional co-operative initiatives to sustain resource delivery.