Our next event in Season Three of the WILDLABS Virtual Meetup Series will focus on Environmental DNA. It is scheduled for Thursday, December 5th from 4:00pm-5:30pm GMT / 11:00am-12:30pm EST.
The WILDLABS Virtual Meetup Series is a program of webinars for community members and wider partners to discuss emerging topics in conservation technology and leverage existing community groups for virtual exchange. The aim of the series is to bring leading engineers in the tech sector together with academics and conservation practitioners to share information, identify obstacles, and discuss how to best move forward.
Season One of the series took place in late 2018, covering new data collection techniques through Networked Sensors for Security and Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) Prevention and Next-Generation Wildlife Tracking, and effective utilization of that information through Big Data in Conservation. Season Two ran during the first half of 2019 and focused on Tools and Spaces for Collaboration, the Low-Cost Open-Source Solutions these approaches are producing, and how to put the information they’re generating to use through Creative Approaches to Data-Driven Storytelling.
Season Three is taking place throughout the second half of 2019 and is exploring the theme of noninvasive monitoring technologies in conservation. This season's topics include Camera Trapping, Drones, Environmental DNA (eDNA), and Acoustic Monitoring. After a more approach-driven second season, we’re eager to be diving back into the realm of development and implementation in the context of these ever-evolving tools.
We are always looking to tailor these meetups to community interests and needs, so if you have ideas about specific discussion points you'd like to see covered during this season please join the thread and share your thoughts.
Meetup 3: Environmental DNA (eDNA)
Date & Time (tentative)
Thursday, December 5th, 2019
4:00pm-5:30pm GMT / 11:00am-12:30pm EST
Background & Need
Environmental DNA, or eDNA, is a molecular sampling technology that collects information about organisms using DNA shed by them into their environment. While eDNA holds exciting potential to become an efficient, low-cost, non-invasive ecological monitoring method, a lack of standardization of approaches and purpose-built sampling equipment make it hard to compare results and determine its actual effectiveness across studies. Detection success and accuracy also vary greatly among species and environments, making standardization a challenge.
However, as eDNA moves toward becoming an industry standard method for species detection and management, the equipment is beginning to transition from largely do-it-yourself experimental contraptions to professionally engineered tools. For example, Smith-Root Inc. recently developed the first-ever purpose-built eDNA sampling system, which they call ANDe™. We’re also seeing an expansion of eDNA applications from mainly marine to freshwater and even terrestrial environments, although the latter still requires substantial growth.
As this nascent field develops, it is critical for the conservation tech community to explore and identify how eDNA applies to management needs, and to ensure that continued development meets those needs. Beyond indicating species presence, research so far suggests that eDNA can contribute to conservation by deepening understanding of population dynamics, resource usage, disease presence, invasion pathways of non-native species, and population genetics, to name a few. This indicates that it could be a critical tool for managing imperiled and invasive species. This meetup will explore some of these current and future applications of eDNA, articulate how it applies to conservation needs, and define what challenges we face in maximizing its potential.
The aims of this discussion are as follows: to introduce eDNA in conservation; to describe how it is being used, including what needs it is addressing and how it fits into the wider conservation tech ecosystem; to discuss the future of this tool, and to identify the obstacles in advancing its capacity.
- Welcome and introductions (5 min)
- Expert speaker presentations (30 min)
- Q&A discussion with speakers (20 min)
- Optional ongoing discussion and community exchange (30 min)
- Takeaways and wrap up (5 min)