Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fauna of an entire lake in a shot glass

Date:
December 13, 2011
Source:
University of Copenhagen
Summary:
Danish researchers are leading the way for future biodiversity monitoring using DNA traces in the environment to keep track of threatened wildlife: a lake water sample the size of a shot glass can contain evidence of an entire lake fauna.

Large white-faced darter (dragonfly).
Credit: Lars L. Iversen

Danish research team leads the way for future biodiversity monitoring using DNA traces in the environment to keep track of threatened wildlife -- a lake water sample the size of a shot glass can contain evidence of an entire lake fauna.

Global biodiversity is plummeting while biologists are fighting to keep score and reliable monitoring of threatened animals remains a major challenge. The biologist toolset has changed little on this area for a hundred years -- still relying on expensive expert surveys basically finding and counting the animals. However, this situation is now set to change according to a recent study by researchers at the Natural History Museum of Denmark published as a cover story in the journal Molecular Ecology. The results of the study show that a new method can be used to monitor rare and threatened animal species from DNA traces in their freshwater environments.

DNA traces in very small water samples

The development of the innovative DNA species monitoring was accomplished by PhD student Philip Francis Thomsen and Master's students Jos Kielgast and Lars L. Iversen at Centre for GeoGenetics headed by professor Eske Willerslev.

"We have shown that the DNA detection method works on a wide range of different rare species living in freshwater -- they all leave DNA traces in their environment which can be detected in even very small water samples from their habitat. In the water samples we find DNA from animals as different as an otter and a dragonfly," says Philip Francis Thomsen.

Study of 100 different lakes and streams

By studying the fauna of one hundred different lakes and streams in Europe with both conventional methods -- counting individuals -- and the new DNA-based method the research team documents that DNA detection is effective even in populations where the animals are extremely rare. The study also shows that there is a clear correlation between the amount of DNA in the environment and the density of individuals meaning that the DNA detection method can even be used to estimate population sizes. This is crucial in the monitoring of rare animals, where one often wants to know whether the population is large or small.

"The UN has agreed to halt the decline of biodiversity, but a prerequisite to do so is that we are capable of properly documenting the status of threatened species. Our new approach is a huge step forward making it cheaper and faster to monitor the endangered species, and thus prioritise efforts to the benefit of biodiversity at a broad scale," says Jos Kielgast.

The researchers have documented that DNA traces of animals are nearly ubiquitous in the freshwater environment and, as a proof-of-concept, these findings may have wider implications reaching disciplines far beyond threatened species monitoring. With DNA sequencing technology advancing at rapidly dropping costs, environmental DNA research is set to change from being merely a scientific curiosity to become an important tool in applied biology. It is for example conceivable that fishing quota may in the future be based on DNA traces rather than fish catches.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Copenhagen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Philip Francis Thomsen, Jos Kielgast, Lars L. Iversen, Carsten Wiuf, Morten Rasmussen, M. Thomas P Gilbert, Ludovic Orlando, Eske Willerslev. Monitoring endangered freshwater biodiversity using environmental DNA. Molecular Ecology, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05418.x

Cite This Page:

University of Copenhagen. "Fauna of an entire lake in a shot glass." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111211134006.htm>.
University of Copenhagen. (2011, December 13). Fauna of an entire lake in a shot glass. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111211134006.htm
University of Copenhagen. "Fauna of an entire lake in a shot glass." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111211134006.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd

Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) New England farms are seeing a surge in younger farm hands as the 'buy local' food movement grows across the country. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, spiders that live in cities are bigger, fatter and multiply faster. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Did Russia Really Find Plankton On The ISS? NASA Not So Sure

Did Russia Really Find Plankton On The ISS? NASA Not So Sure

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) Russian cosmonauts say they've found evidence of sea plankton on the International Space Station's windows. NASA is a little more skeptical. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins