POST PROVIDED BY TRACIE SEIMON, PHD
In recent years, there have been a lot of studies on the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) for species detection and monitoring. This method takes advantage of the fact that organisms shed DNA into the environment in the form of urine, feces, or cells from tissue such as skin. As this DNA stays in the environment, we can use molecular techniques to search for traces of it. By doing this, we can determine if a species lives in a particular place.
At the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), we’re integrating and using the ANDe system in combination with ultra-portable qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction) and DNA extraction technologies developed by Biomeme Inc. for eDNA capture and species detection of endangered turtles, and other aquatic organisms. This helps us to better monitor species within our global conservation programs.
The ANDe System Vs Hand-Pumping for eDNA
The ANDe system has several advantages over traditional hand-pumping for eDNA capture. Its pumping mechanism gives you a high degree of control in water filtration and the ability to monitor the volume of water filtered while collecting a sample. This control (pressure, flow rate) becomes even more important when dealing with high sediment water samples. We’ve found the ANDe system cuts the filtration time down significantly when compared to traditional hand pumping. Even more time is saved by not having to clean out the filtration device between each sample.
The extendable pole and single-use cartridges also reduce the potential for cross-contamination as samples are collected from different water sources. All of these features reduce the amount of time involved with collecting samples, and allow us to perform the filtration at the point of collection instead of transporting samples back to the lab for filtration. We also like the flexibility in choosing the pore size for the single use cartridges to meet our research goals.
How Can YOU Use the ANDe System?
This type of technology can be used as a conservation tool to search for rare and endangered species in the natural ecosystem. In our research, we are employing it to search for endangered turtles and to collect information about where endangered individuals exist and to identify new habitats.
The ANDe system will be a useful tool for monitoring reintroduction programs, detecting invasive species, augmentation of traditional biodiversity surveys, and environmental monitoring of pathogens of conservation concern. It can also be used to help inform environmental impact assessments and to monitor for species that are trafficked through the illegal wildlife trade. We plan to integrate this technology into other conservation applications as we develop more field-friendly kits for wildlife species and pathogen detection.
To find out more about the ANDe System, read our Methods in Ecology and Evolution article ‘ANDe™: A fully integrated environmental DNA sampling system’.
This blog post is part of a BES Journals series for Endangered Species Day. Read our other Endangered Species blog posts here:
Journal of Applied Ecology: Stress on the ski slope: individual capercaillies show different coping styles
Journal of Animal Ecology:The intersection of wildlife conservation, disease, and human health
Journal of Ecology: Spotlight on an endangered herb: Hypericum cumulicola
Journal of Applied Ecology: How to recover endangered raptor species: the Spanish imperial eagle as a case of study
Journal of Animal Ecology: Return to the wild: conservation hope for the scimitar-horned oryx