Uncovering the recovering biodiversity along the Sussex coast

eDNA outperforms traditional visual surveys in a multi-year marine rewilding project


In March 2021, the Sussex Nearshore Trawling Bylaw was introduced, banning trawling along the Sussex coastline in the hope that over time, the kelp forest ecosystem that used to thrive in these waters would recover.

Traditional survey methods including baited remote underwater video (BRUVs) are expensive and labour-intensive, so the University of Sussex wanted to compare this traditional method to NatureMetrics’ eDNA metabarcoding service to monitor biodiversity recovery inside the trawling exclusion zone over multiple years.

Our Role

NatureMetrics provided an easy to use, cost-effective, and time-efficient eDNA solution to monitor the changes in biodiversity along the Sussex coastline, as the ecosystem recovers after the introduction of the trawling exclusion zone.

The University of Sussex chose to work with NatureMetrics metabarcoding service for the multi-year project as the surveying method is easily replicable and the simple sampling procedure meant sampling could be conducted by students.  


An analysis of the project revealed that  NatureMetrics’ eDNA solution detected three times as many marine vertebrate species along the Sussex coast compared to traditional baited remote underwater video surveys.

This groundbreaking finding underscores the unparalleled power of eDNA as a biomonitoring tool for accurately tracking biodiversity recovery, which is crucial for effective conservation efforts and justifying future conservation bylaws and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

Furthermore, the analysis compared the effort required for both methods. Visual surveys, including fieldwork and data processing, demanded an extensive total effort of 7 hours per survey site, equivalent to a staggering 8 hours for each species detected. In striking contrast, utilizing NatureMetrics’ eDNA service significantly reduced the effort to a mere 25 minutes per survey site or a remarkable 1.25 minutes per species detected. These extraordinary time savings highlight the exceptional efficiency and cost-effectiveness offered by eDNA technology.

“The utilization of eDNA for multi-year biodiversity monitoring at scale has unleashed unparalleled time and cost effectiveness compared to traditional biomonitoring tools – 480.75 minutes per species detected to be precise! 

The NatureMetrics kits are simple to use and the students love going out in the field collecting the eDNA samples.

We will continue working with NatureMetrics over the coming years to monitor changes in biodiversity as the ecosystem recovers – I’m really looking forward to using this data to help convince governments that more trawling bylaws are needed!”  

– Alice Clark, University of Sussex

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