eDNA and biodiversity risk

Environmental DNA (eDNA) as a tool for biodiversity surveys is a relatively new, but rapidly developing field.

eDNA is the small amounts of genetic material left in an environment by plants, animals and fungi. When this genetic material is extracted from soil, sediment or water samples and compared against DNA sequences available in global databases, it is possible to identify the range of species present in that area.

Because non-specialists can carry out its simple, non-invasive sampling requirements, it is of growing interest to development projects looking for cost-effective approaches to understanding and mitigating negative impacts on biodiversity. However, limitations still exist, and projects need careful scoping to ensure it meets survey or monitoring objectives

In this briefing note we look at the current state of eDNA approaches, so practitioners can identify where the application of this technology can benefit a project and where it will complement or enhance traditional survey methods – whether in understanding ecological communities at a landscape level, confirming the presence of elusive species on site, or showing the effectiveness of mitigation measures.

It’s an exciting space and the potential applications for evaluating risks to biodiversity during early project scoping and in the design and implementation of effective mitigation actions need to be explored and understood. Read the briefing note here.