A new method of identifying an entire community of mammals, Ecologists report this week on a new method of identifying an entire community of mammals including elusive and endangered species that are otherwise difficult to monitor by collecting DNA from river water.
Some mammal species are notoriously difficult to monitor.
Camera traps have improved the way conservation scientists study wildlife, but environmental DNA (eDNA) methods may offer a monitoring tool that could revolutionize conservation and ecology research, Sutherland adds, but the method required testing.
We currently use many ways of detecting and monitoring mammals, from looking for signs such as footprints or feces, to using camera traps to take photos of them over several weeks.Researcher said.
Now, we may just simply need to collect a few bottles of water and take it to the laboratory and look at the DNA we find.
To test this, the researchers collected water and sediment from streams and rivers in Scotland and England.
They found DNA from over 20 wild British mammals and compared the results to historical records, field signs such as fecal samples and cameras. A new method of identifying an entire community of mammals.
They report that eDNA “provided a similar or better performance in detecting water voles, for example, when compared to looking for water voles using field signs or cameras.
They add that accurately assessing the conservation status and distribution of mammals is increasingly important as many species’ populations decline worldwide. Further, surveys using traps, trail cameras and fields signs are time-consuming and costly.
Researcher said, We are always looking for ways to improve biodiversity assessments and monitoring, and we need to find methods which can be applied universally and cost-effectively.
Researcher adds, We have demonstrated that environmental DNA collected from water bodies is effective for providing us with information about the presence or absence of mammals of conservation concern. A new method of identifying an entire community of mammals.
This could be used at national levels for monitoring declining or recovering populations, or the early detection of harmful invasive species.