Conventional animal ecology often involves monitoring via visual observation or manual contact. But what to do in case the study species occurs in extremely low densities, hides in unreachable places, is covered by water, soil or vegetation, or has a nocturnal and/or solitary life style? In such situations non-invasive genetic techniques may offer a solution. In this talk, I show the many different things that can be learned from the DNA obtained from sampled faeces, hairs or egg shells. But new advances in molecular techniques now even allow us to extract the tiny bits of DNA that animals leave behind in their environment (so-called environmental DNA or eDNA). At Alterra, we develop techniques eDNA-based techniques to detect the presence of aquatic animals, such as invasive crayfish or endangered amphibians, via a simple water sample.
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