Long-term trends in abundance and phenology using eDNA analyses of airborne bryophyte spores
Bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) are particularly sensitive to climate and land use changes but existing monitoring programmes are insufficient to reveal trends at species or community levels. This project opens an unprecedented new opportunity for tracking changes using airborne spores identified by eDNA techniques. To detect radioactive downfall, the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI) since 1965 continuously filter large quantities of air onto glass fibre filters, replaced weekly at 6 stations across the country. It has proved possible to retrieve and identify airborne particles from these permanently stored filters using eDNA techniques. Currently, the data set contains records from Kiruna during the period 1974-2010. Bryophytes are richly represented in this world-unique archive by seasonally released spores. We aim to study trends in abundancy for individual species and total community assemblage and match it to available local meteorological data and land use data. We will also study phenological shifts in relation to meteorological data across the time series. A major overall aim of this pioneering project is to set a standard for future eDNA studies in terms of taxon selection, sequence validation, field data collection and statistical treatment.