This sort of testing reduces the strain that human interactions have on animals and the environment
Partnered with the Biodiversity Institute at the University of Guelph, our team had a goal—to commercialize the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) testing. This biodiversity assessment technology has been around for a number of years in research institutions, but with the help of funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), we could bring eDNA services to the field.
Using a hand-held, point-of-need tool to sample, extract, and analyze the waterways, scientists produce live results on location in less than two hours. The tool identifies blood, skin, waste, and other materials that the target species sheds in waterways. The benefit? A non-invasive way to know if an animal is in the environment that is more reliable, timely, and cost-effective than conventional tools.
To test the technology, we visited ten sites that had been checked for the Jefferson salamander, an endangered species that is difficult to locate. Nine of the sites had had visual confirmation beforehand, but after sampling the breeding pool waters we were able to show that all 10 sites had active populations.
The result? Further development was warranted to broaden applications. This also led to the creation of Precision Biomonitoring, a commercial partner.
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