Non-lethal age estimation helps manage wild fish populations

June 29th, 2021

A hand holding the head of a cod fish caught in a net.

A Mary River Cod being handled to collect a fin tissue sample, to assess the population. DNA from the sample was used to estimate its age. © David Roberts, Seqwater.

Identifying the age of animals is fundamental to wildlife management. It helps scientists know if a species is at risk of extinction and the rate at which it reproduces, as well as determining what level of fishing is sustainable.

Ben worked with colleagues from CSIRO, Seqwater, Queensland Government, NSW Department of Primary Industries, University of Queensland and University of Western Australia, the team first worked with zebrafish to develop the DNA method.

The result of the research is a fast, cost-effective DNA test for use with three threatened Australian freshwater species, the Australian lungfish, the Murray cod and the Mary River cod. The method can also be adapted for other fish species.

You can read more about on CSIRO News, ‘New DNA test to transform wild fish population management’ or on The Conversation, ‘Breakthrough allows scientists to determine the age of endangered native fish using DNA.’

Or read the paper “Non-lethal age estimation of three threatened fish species using DNA methylation: Australian lungfish, Murray cod, and Mary River cod” published in Molecular Ecology Resources.