“eDNA” unlocking the biodiversity in our streams

It was only a few short years ago that mapping of the gene sequences of any of the worlds flora and fauna became possible, let alone the human genome and at the costs of many $1000’s or $10,000’s

Today, as the related technologies have developed new tools, are becoming available that can be applied to everyday practical uses in the field.  One of those is in-water sampling to get an inventory of the organisms in or around your streams.

Wilderlab based in Wellington is a DNA testing Lab that provides this service.  Converting a sophisticated science and technological process into a simple testing kit that can be applied by anyone who can follow simple instructions,  samples can be collected, sent to the lab, and for about $160 per test the secrets of your stream can be revealed.

PF Olsen has utilised this testing on several occasions lately and Environment Manager Kit Richards states that just as with the genesis of other technologies such as automatic bat and bird recorders and more advanced pest trapping methods, eDNA testing adds a very powerful tool to the toolbox.

In the past few months the testing has been used to:

  • Obtain an inventory of fish species in streams within forests to establish a baseline presence before harvest and for monitoring into the long term.
  • Establish whether threatened species might be present in a stream.
  • Establish that a threatened frog species is not in a catchment.

With the availability of these test kits, establishing what is present in your streams has become a remarkably cheap and easy exercise.