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Airborne environmental DNA - revolutionising vertebrate monitoring

Carlsberg Foundation Young Researcher Fellowships

What

Environmental DNA is rapidly becoming the tool of choice to assess biodiversity. However, only a few environmental DNA sample types can effectively capture terrestrial vertebrate diversity. To this end, my team and I recently demonstrated that it is possible to directly recover airborne environmental DNA shed by local vertebrate communities through air filtration. With the funding from the Carlsberg Foundation, I will form a research team dedicated to establishing the use of airborne environmental DNA as a tool for terrestrial vertebrate monitoring. Over the next 3 years, my team and I will focus on fine-tuning the technique, expanding it to natural environments, and applying it to biodiversity studies and standardised surveys.

Why

By developing airborne environmental DNA for use in natural systems, my team and I will push the boundaries for environmental DNA biomonitoring and pioneer the use of a new source of vertebrate environmental DNA data. This has the potential to transform our ability to study and monitor terrestrial vertebrates, which can ultimately allow us to track vertebrate declines, inform conservation efforts, and follow progress towards achieving biodiversity targets.

How

I will establish a research group dedicated to vertebrate monitoring through airborne environmental DNA. In addition to state-of-the-art environmental DNA laboratory and computational workflows, we will bridge disciplines through collaboration with a strong group of national and international collaborators.

SSR

Airborne environmental DNA technology has the capacity to allow us to track vertebrate declines and progress towards achieving biodiversity targets. This is of great global importance given the ongoing climate and biodiversity crisis.