With traditional methods, you can spend lots of money and not necessarily get a complete picture of what’s living at your site. Take advantage of eDNA methods and gain larger and more complete biodiversity datasets. The tools offer higher detection at far higher throughput rates, with results that are consistent and accurate. This makes the results easy to standardise, share between groups, and repeat throughout the year. Contemporary eDNA data will allow you to catch exciting biodiversity trends in your site. Are you seeing declines in key indicator species, can you see a loss of species diversity after a large impact on your site? Spend less time sampling and more time interpreting your up-to-date and representative results.
We’ve worked on a huge range of taxonomic groups in lots of different ecosystems. An example of one of our fish projects comes from the River Frome in England, where we measured the fish communities at different areas along the river. We sampled the river mouth, the saline transition zone and also in upstream and purely freshwater areas. This is a typical example of using our eDNA methods in a range of salinities to achieve a biodiversity assessment. Some fish were found in all sites, and others were found only in certain areas. We could use this to inform our collaborative project with Natural England.
We’ve also got strong citizen science opportunities, and we believe that anybody can sample eDNA and find out what’s living in their chosen area. We took part in Chris Packham’s BioBlitz in Wicken Fen, and the volunteers did a great job. They collected water samples, filtered them, then we took them back to the labs for processing. They detected 12 fish species in their samples (and a toad!). The Environmental Agency has been monitoring this area since 1984, and they have found the same species, but they have never found them all in a single survey. Our non-experts demonstrated just how sensitive and powerful the eDNA methods can be.