Researchers from Melbourne Water in Australia have used a new method for sampling the levels of biodiversity in Melbourne’s waterways. Traditionally these kinds of samples required scientists to capture and identify animals, but this system is labour intensive, and does not capture the full range of biodiversity in an area. The new method however only requires a water sample and a ‘library’ of reference DNA of known species. By identifying the DNA present in the water sample, and comparing it to the library, researchers can determine which species are living in or near the water without ever having to see or catch them. This hands-off approach is less stressful for the animals, captures far more information than traditional methods, and is significantly cheaper and easier, in fact the samples can be collected by citizen scientists.
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