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Ecology based research news being presented this week

The sky’s the limit: Using airborne DNA to monitor insect biodiversity - British Ecological Society

Coriolis µ. The air sampler used to obtain eDNA from insects in the field. It works by sucking in air and swirling it through water, where the particles contained in the air get captured.  Credit: Fabian Roger
Coriolis µ. The air sampler used to obtain eDNA from insects in the field. It works by sucking in air and swirling it through water, where the particles contained in the air get captured.  Credit: Fabian Roger

Scientists at Lund University have discovered for the first time that it is possible to detect insect DNA in the air. Using air from three sites in Sweden, insect DNA from 85 species could be identified. This offers scope for exploring a whole new way to monitor terrestrial biodiversity.

These preliminary results will be presented at Ecology Across Borders (13th-15th December) via an online poster by Dr Fabian Roger, who is currently working at ETH Zürich.

Insects detected included many important species such as bees, moths, flies, beetles, wasps and ants. The study not only picked up evidence of insects, but many vertebrate species too, including birds, mammals and some domestic species.

In many areas, insects are declining at an alarming rate, but we also know very little about the number of species in existence. It is estimated that we have described 1 million out of 5.5 million insect species on Earth. This means it is vital to develop efficient ways to monitor biodiversity.

Fabian Roger said “In the face of the biodiversity crisis, we desperately need better information on the status and distribution of species. Our study is a proof of concept that shows that we can detect DNA from insects and vertebrates from air collected under natural conditions. This opens many exciting possibilities for species monitoring and detection, which could allow us to comprehensively monitor biodiversity at large spatial and temporal scales.”


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Posted On: 13/12/2021

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