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Inspiring MidCoast schools and community with eDNA science

  • - (AEST)

Coupled to DNA metabarcoding, eDNA is a powerful means of biodiversity monitoring and is increasingly being used to engage and empower community environmental awareness and action through well-designed citizen science programs.

The project engages primary schools and targeted community organisations to identify a variety of animal species present in local rivers and creeks in the Manning River catchment.

The project had three stages. Representatives from schools and community organisations attended a one-day workshop on eDNA sampling techniques and practices. University researchers explained the practice and techniques of eDNA sampling of waterways and sampling kits are provided.

Participants then accessed and sampled a high interest site in a local waterway and collected water samples using scientific standards and practices. Samples were assessed by Charles Sturt University. The project targeted the eDNA detection of species such as platypus and the threatened Manning River turtle, but also the presence of species such as fish, crayfish, eels, riverine frogs, and rakali.

The results of the overall surveys were compiled and reported back to participant schools and organisations. It enabled broader conversations on the variety of life in their chosen stream, the relative condition and health of the waterway, and the factors or issues that may be influencing aquatic species assemblages at each site. The project concludes with an interactive webinar and Q&A during National Science Week, where the participants will discuss the results of their surveys with university researchers and environmental practitioners.

The training workshop was undertaken in April, sample collection in May and sample analysis in June and July. The reports will be produced by mid-August. The final webinar and live Q&A for all participants will be delivered on Tuesday August 16 at 12-1pm.