What is eDNA?

A relatively new method for monitoring biodiversity, eDNA refers to fragments of genetic material which is shed by organisms into their surrounding environment. Usually taken from soil, water, sediment, or air scientists sample eDNA to identify the presence of species within an ecosystem without the need to directly observe or capture organisms.

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How is eDNA used?

Used in various fields including conservation biology, ecology, and wider environmental monitoring in both terrestrial and aquatic environments, eDNA sampling can be used to assess species richness, track changes in biodiversity, monitor invasive species, and for comparing the effectiveness of different nature restoration efforts.

When it comes to assessing species in remote or landscape-size locations, eDNA sampling can be more time-efficient and cost-effective than traditional survey methods as multiple samples can be gathered at the same time, reducing the need for time-consuming fieldwork.

eDNA data provides insight into quality and suitability of habitats based on the identified presence of indicator species (species which when present, represent the wider health status of an ecosystem). Methodologies and techniques used to collect eDNA data can be standardised, making it easier to quantify and compare results across different habitats and regions and enhancing collaboration and data sharing among researchers and land managers.

How long does environmental DNA persist in the water?

Environmental DNA (eDNA) is surprisingly resilient and can persist in water for up to two weeks. By comparison, traditional surveying methods such as netting, trapping or direct observation of organisms typically only last a day or less.

This makes eDNA samples a much more reliable indicator of biodiversity and environmental health over time. As it is washed away by currents or flushed out by rain, eDNA degrades and breaks down, so its persistence in the water is limited to a couple of weeks.

Real Wild Estates can arrange for eDNA sampling to be used across your land if required.

Balancing nature recovery with business viability ensures returns for nature and for you.

Aim Wilder
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