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Environmental DNA Collection

September 14, 2016

Conducting a census of species using environmental DNA.


Pat Hawks CC BY 2.0, via flickr 700

A red fox in Acadia National Park. (Pat Hawks CC BY 2.0, via flickr)


Tracking down species with DNA. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Anything that walks, hops, swims or slithers through an environment leaves a trail of DNA from skin, hair and other cells left behind. Using DNA amplification techniques, scientists can now take small samples of soil or water, and identify every living creature in that environment. That’s what molecular ecologist Abbey Paulson is doing at a variety of sites in Acadia National Park in Maine.

ABBEY PAULSON (Schoodic Institute):

So this research will establish a baseline level of biodiversity in the park, so what species are here and at what abundances. And that will let us gauge into the future, as climate change happens and other global change phenomena, how those things are affecting the communities and ecosystems in the park.


That information will help national park staff make better decisions on how to protect and preserve park resources. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon