Dr Lynsey Harper

School of Biological and Environmental Sciences

I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Mariani Lab working on the SpongeDNA project. Marine sponges are natural filters that trap particles in their tissues, including DNA released by animals into the water column (i.e. environmental DNA, eDNA). Using aquaria and field experiments, I will develop and optimise DNA metabarcoding of sponge tissue (i.e. natural sampler DNA, nsDNA). I will compare novel nsDNA metabarcoding with aqueous eDNA metabarcoding, and evaluate the potential applications and limitations of this approach for marine biodiversity assessment.

I hold a PhD in Biological Sciences from the University of Hull, UK; an MSc in Quantitative Methods in Biodiversity, Conservation & Epidemiology from the University of Glasgow, UK; and a BSc (Hons) in Zoology from the University of Glasgow, UK. Prior to joining the Mariani Lab, I held postdoctoral positions in the EvoHull group at the University of Hull, UK, and at the Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA.

I am an aquatic ecologist with a strong interest in both freshwater and marine ecosystems, community ecology, and the development of new tools for biodiversity monitoring. I am excited to be involved in the innovative and fast-paced field of eDNA metabarcoding. I believe this tool has enormous potential for biodiversity monitoring in aquatic environments to map multi-species distribution, estimate multi-species occupancy, reveal species associations, construct ecological networks, and improve biomonitoring. I am keen to advance eDNA metabarcoding in terms of methodological development, standardisation, and application to ecological questions in order to better inform biodiversity conservation, management and policy. Sponge nsDNA metabarcoding could be the next piece of this puzzle and bypass the issues encountered with aqueous eDNA capture in marine environments, including small water volumes, dilution effects, time-consuming filtration and plastic waste, and resource-intensive automated underwater vehicles

Degrees

2019, University of Hull, United Kingdom, PhD Biological Sciences
2015, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom, MSc Quantitative Methods in Biodiversity, Conservation and Epidemiology
2013, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom, BSc (Hons) Zoology

Academic appointments

Postdoctoral Research Officer, School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, 2020 - 2023
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2019 - 2020
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Biological and Marine Sciences, University of Hull, 2019 - 2019

Journal article

Blackman RC, Osathanunkul M, Brantschen J, Di Muri C, Harper LR, Mächler E, Hänfling B, Altermatt F. 2021. Mapping biodiversity hotspots of fish communities in subtropical streams through environmental DNA Scientific Reports, 11 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Mariani S, Harper LR, Collins RA, Baillie C, Wangensteen OS, McDevitt AD, Heddell-Cowie M, Genner MJ. 2021. Estuarine molecular bycatch as a landscape-wide biomonitoring tool Biological Conservation, 261 DOI

Thalinger B, Deiner K, Harper LR, Rees HC, Blackman RC, Sint D, Traugott M, Goldberg CS, Bruce K. 2021. A validation scale to determine the readiness of environmental DNA assays for routine species monitoring Environmental DNA, 3 :823-836 DOI

Blabolil P, Harper LR, Říčanová Š, Sellers G, Di Muri C, Jůza T, Vašek M, Sajdlová Z, Rychtecký P, Znachor P, Hejzlar J, Peterka J, Hänfling B. 2021. Environmental DNA metabarcoding uncovers environmental correlates of fish communities in spatially heterogeneous freshwater habitats Ecological Indicators, 126 DOI

Harper L, Watson H, Donnelly R, Hampshire R, Sayer C, Breithaupt T, Hänfling B. 2020. Using DNA metabarcoding to investigate diet and niche partitioning in the native European otter (Lutra lutra) and invasive American mink (Neovison vison) Metabarcoding and Metagenomics, 4 DOI Publisher Url Public Url

Blackman RC, Ling KKS, Harper LR, Shum P, Hanfling B, Lawson-Handley L. 2020. Targeted and passive environmental DNA approaches outperform established methods for detection of quagga mussels, Dreissena rostriformis bugensis in flowing water ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 10 :13248-13259 DOI Author Url Public Url

Harper LR, Lawson Handley L, Sayer CD, Read DS, Benucci M, Blackman RC, Hill MJ, Hanfling B. 2020. Assessing the impact of the threatened crucian carp (Carassius carassius) on pond invertebrate diversity: A comparison of conventional and molecular tools Molecular Ecology, DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Katz AD, Harper LR, Sternhagen EC, Pearce SE, Melder CA, Sperry JH, Davis MA. 2020. Environmental DNA is effective in detecting the federally threatened Louisiana Pinesnake ( Pituophis ruthveni) Environmental DNA, DOI Publisher Url Public Url

Sales NG, McKenzie MB, Drake J, Harper LR, Browett SS, Coscia I, Wangensteen OS, Baillie C, Bryce E, Dawson DA, Ochu E, Haenfling B, Handley LL, Mariani S, Lambin X, Sutherland C, McDevitt AD. 2020. Fishing for mammals: Landscape-level monitoring of terrestrial and semi-aquatic communities using eDNA from riverine systems Journal of Applied Ecology, 57 :707-716 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Harper L, Handley LL, Hahn C, Boonham N, Rees H, Lewis E, Adams I, Brotherton P, Phillips S, Hänfling B. 2020. Generating and testing ecological hypotheses at the pondscape with environmental DNA metabarcoding: a case study on a threatened amphibian Environmental DNA, 2 :184-199 DOI Publisher Url Public Url

Blackman R, Benucci M, Donnelly RC, Hänfling B, Harper L, Sellers GS, Lawson-Handley L. 2020. Simple, sensitive and species-specific assays for detecting quagga and zebra mussels (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis and D. polymorpha) using environmental DNA Management of Biological Invasions, 11 :218-236 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Harper KJ, Goodwin KD, Harper LR, LaCasella EL, Frey A, Dutton PH. 2020. Finding Crush: Environmental DNA Analysis as a Tool for Tracking the Green Sea Turtle Chelonia mydas in a Marine Estuary Frontiers in Marine Science, 6 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Harper LR, Handley LL, Carpenter AI, Ghazali M, Di Muri C, Macgregor CJ, Logan TW, Law A, Breithaupt T, Read DS, McDevitt AD, Hanfling B. 2019. Environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding of pond water as a tool to survey conservation and management priority mammals Biological Conservation, 238 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Li J, Lawson Handley L, Harper L, Brys R, Watson HV, Di Muri C, Zhang X, Hänfling B. 2019. Limited dispersion and quick degradation of environmental DNA in fish ponds inferred by metabarcoding Environmental DNA, 1 :238-250 DOI Publisher Url Public Url

Harper LR, Downie JR, McNeill DC. 2019. Assessment of habitat and survey criteria for the great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) in Scotland: a case study on a translocated population Hydrobiologia: the international journal on limnology and marine sciences, 828 :57-71 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Harper LR, Griffiths NP, Handley LL, Sayer CD, Read DS, Harper KJ, Blackman RC, Li J, Hanfling B. 2019. Development and application of environmental DNA surveillance for the threatened crucian carp (Carassius carassius) Freshwater Biology, 64 :93-107 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Harper LR, Buxton AS, Rees HC, Bruce K, Brys R, Halfmaerten D, Read DS, Watson HV, Sayer CD, Jones EP, Priestley V, Machler E, Murria C, Garces-Pastor S, Medupin C, Burgess K, Benson G, Boonham N, Griffiths RA, Handley LL, Haenfling B. 2019. Prospects and challenges of environmental DNA (eDNA) monitoring in freshwater ponds Hydrobiologia: the international journal on limnology and marine sciences, 826 :25-41 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Harper L, Downie JR, McNeill DC. 2018. Great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) populations are not one and the same: Scottish newts respond differently to Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) and abiotic factors The Glasgow Naturalist, 27 :19-20 Publisher Url Public Url

Harper LR, Handley LL, Hahn C, Boonham N, Rees HC, Gough KC, Lewis E, Adams IP, Brotherton P, Phillips S, Hanfling B. 2018. Needle in a haystack? A comparison of eDNA metabarcoding and targeted qPCR for detection of the great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) Ecology and Evolution, 8 :6330-6341 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Harper L, McNeill DC, Downie JR. 2017. The latest chapter in a conservation story: completing 10 years of post-translocation monitoring for a population of great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) in Scotland The Glasgow Naturalist, 26 Publisher Url Public Url

Harper LR, Downie JR, Muir M, White SA. 2017. What can Expeditions do for Students ... and for Science? An Investigation into the Impact of University of Glasgow Exploration Society Expeditions JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL EDUCATION, 51 :3-16 DOI Author Url

Blabolil P, Harper L, Ricanova S, Sellers G, Muri CD, za TJ, ek MRV, Sajdlov Z, Rychteck P, Znachor P, Hejzlar J, Peterka J, Haenfling B. Environmental DNA metabarcoding uncovers environmental correlates of fish communities in spatially heterogeneous freshwater habitats DOI

Thalinger B, Deiner K, Harper L, Rees H, Blackman R, Sint D, Traugott M, Goldberg C, Bruce K. A validation scale to determine the readiness of environmental DNA assays for routine species monitoring Environmental DNA, DOI Public Url

Other

Guimarães Sales N, McKenzie M, Drake J, Harper L, Browett S, Coscia I, Wangensteen O, Baillie C, Bryce E, Dawson D, Ochu E, Hänfling B, Handley LL, Mariani S, Lambin X, Sutherland C, McDevitt A. 2019. Fishing for mammals: landscape-level monitoring of terrestrial and semi-aquatic communities using eDNA from lotic ecosystems DOI

Membership of professional bodies:

Member, Royal Society of Biology, https://www.rsb.org.uk/. 2021

Member, British Ecological Society, https://www.britishecologicalsociety.org/. 2021

Member, Fisheries Society of the British Isles, https://www.fsbi.org.uk/. 2020

Member, Freshwater Biological Association, https://www.fba.org.uk/. 2017

Editorial boards:

Methods in Ecology and Evolution, Associate Editor, https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/hub/journal/2041210X/editorial-board/editorial-board. 2020

Conference organisation:

Fisheries Society of the British Isles Symposium 2019: Advances in Advances in eDNA-based Approaches to Fish Ecology and Management, Member of the Organising Committee. 2019

Award:

The Blodwen Lloyd Binns Prize for 'new author' (2017-2018), Glasgow Natural History Society. 2018

External committees:

Aquatic Ecology Special Interest Group, British Ecological Society, Early Career Representative, https://www.britishecologicalsociety.org/membership-community/special-interest-groups/aquatic-ecology/. 2017

Research Grants Awarded:

Glasgow Natural History Society, Blodwen Lloyd Binns Bequest Fund, Grant value (£): 1000, Duration of research project: 4 months.

Zoological Society of London, Erasmus Darwin Barlow Expedition Grant, Grant value (£): 1000, Duration of research project: 3 months.

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