DNA points to lots of marine life near cities

Image: Redondo Beach
Washington state’s Redondo Beach is one of the urbanized sites where environmental DNA samples were taken. (Credit: Joe Mabel via Flickr / CC BY-SA 3.0)

A novel method for analyzing the DNA left behind in the waters of Puget Sound shows that urban shorelines tend to harbor a wider array of marine life than less developed shorelines.

That outcome came as a surprise to the researchers from the University of Washington, Seattle’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center and Oregon State University. In a study published this week by the journal PeerJ, they reported that bivalves and gastropods – clams and snails – were particularly widespread.

“Clams and other things that live in mud seem to like living near cities, which is really interesting,” lead author Ryan Kelly, a UW assistant professor of marine and environmental affairs, said in a news release.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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