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There’s something in the water: eDNA

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eDNA2AleeshaWebWhat if I told you a bottle of water can help to save a species? Well, with the latest scientific advances in environmental DNA sampling, this is becoming a reality.

This May, scientists from across B.C. came together to sample wetlands in the Fraser Valley in the hopes of finding new populations of Oregon Spotted Frog.

Extremely small concentrations of DNA left by the frog in the environment (environmental DNA – eDNA) are able to be detected by specific primers and amplified by PCR in a laboratory.

Instead of setting hundreds of traps that may or may not catch a frog, this method of collecting water samples and analyzing them in a lab has the potential to assist us discovering new populations MUCH faster than we ever thought possible!

eDNA1AleeshaWebThe samples are currently being analyzed to ensure that our known populations test positive for OSF, and then, who knows where we can go from here! Stay up to date with Precious Frog to learn more about this exciting field of science.

A huge thank you to Kristiina Ovaska, Lennart Sopuck and Jared Hobbs for their tireless efforts in this project. This would not be possible without funding from HCTF – thank you! To learn more about the project, visit the Habitat Conservation Trust website.

Photos:

At the top: Sometimes sampling is a little difficult! If you start to walk through the water your risk contaminating your sample. A painter’s pole with a bicycle bottle holder attached to the rescue! Who said science wasn’t an art form?

On the left: Sometimes it is easy to take a sample: just stand on the shoreline and dunk the bottle in (Oh, don’t forget to triple rinse your bottle and avoid sample contamination by washing downstream of your collection!).

On the right: A clean, labeled bottle with site name, coordinates, collection time, and sample collector. This information, as well as detailed habitat assessments and measurements, are taken at each site.

Text and photos: Aleesha Switzer