The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and NatureMetrics have created a partnership to combat the extinction crisis by using cutting-edge DNA technology to create a global atlas of the state of life in rivers and wetlands of world importance.
The eBioAtlas program gathers data at scale to support conservation, unlock investment and inform world biodiversity policy. The first 3 years will see 30,000 water samples collected from dozens of areas of critical conservation importance. NatureMetrics will analyse environmental DNA left in the water - by fish, birds, amphibians and land animals - to identify the range and distribution of species in each ecosystem.
FootPrint Coalition will fund one of the first eBioAtlas projects, in Malagarasi-Moyovosi Ramsar Wetland, in Tanzania. The wetland extends across 9.2 M hectares including five substantial rivers and extensive riparian wetlands. It is the largest drainage system into Lake Tanganyika, a recognized centre of world biodiversity.
Here's Why We're Into This:
Of course both human and non-human life (like my farm animal friends!) have intrinsic value...but biodiversity also provides human societies everything from clean air and water to the pollination of our food!
Why e-DNA Matters
What is e-DNA?
Environmental DNA or eDNA is DNA that is collected from a variety of environmental samples such as soil, seawater, snow or even air rather than directly sampled from an individual organism. As various organisms interact with the environment, DNA is shed and accumulates in their surroundings.
Certain areas have large numbers of endemic species — those found nowhere else. Many of these are heavily threatened by habitat loss and other human activities. These areas are the biodiversity hotspots, 36 regions where success in conserving species can have an enormous impact in securing our global biodiversity.
How Is It Collected?
Microplastics end up in almost all water systems in the world - streams, rivers, lakes, and the ocean. Microplastics can accumulate in fish, birds and other marine life. Because they do not break down, the amount in the sea and fish will continue to accumulate, making the problem worse over time, until we manage to reduce the amount of plastic in the sea.
Biodiversity shows Earth's health is thriving. We have evolved to rely on healthy ecosystems - they clean our water, purify our air, maintain our soil, regulate the climate, recycle nutrients and provide us with food. Biodiversity provides raw materials and resources for medicines and other essentials - it's the foundation of our economy and our well-being.