Environmental DNA and its uses for rewilding and ecosystem restoration
Environmental DNA (eDNA) is genetic material obtained from various organisms present in their environment. This genetic material can include skin cells, scales, feces, or other biological material that organisms release into their surroundings. Scientists can extract and analyze this eDNA to identify the species present in a particular ecosystem without directly observing or capturing them.
In the context of rewilding and ecosystem restoration, eDNA is a powerful tool for monitoring and managing biodiversity. By analyzing eDNA samples from soil, water, or air, scientists can gain insights into the presence of specific species, including those that may be endangered or critical for ecosystem health. This non-invasive method allows for a comprehensive understanding of the current state of an ecosystem without disrupting it.
eDNA technology is particularly useful in rewilding efforts as it helps track the success of reintroduced species and monitor the overall health of the restored ecosystem. This information guides conservationists and restoration practitioners in making informed decisions about habitat management, identifying potential threats, and adjusting reintroduction strategies.
By harnessing eDNA, rewilding projects can be more efficient and adaptive, ensuring that ecosystems are not only repopulated with diverse species but also sustained in a balanced and resilient manner. The ability to monitor biodiversity through eDNA enhances our capacity to restore ecosystems to their natural and thriving states.
eDNA Testing in Portugal
In 2023 we tested water and soil samples from the partner site in Portugal. These samples were tested by NatureMetrics. These results give us a baseline for future comparison as the land is restored and rewilded.
Results revealed some invasive species as well as some threatened species, notably endangered fish species.
This information can now be used to guide future restoration work. Future testing will be carried out, along with traditional surveys and Bioblitz events,