Understanding is key
Australia currently has some of the highest wildlife extinction rates in the world, and Victoria is no exception. As Victoria’s population grows, so too will the threat to our spectacular native animals.
To help protect endangered animals, scientists need to understand them better, learning more about how they live and what exactly might threaten – and save – them.
Tracking through tech
DNA testing is now being used to track and trace animal movements in the Victorian environment, especially along the Yarra River. This technology is known as environmental DNA (eDNA).
Like humans, when animals move through their environment they leave traces of their DNA. Through the flecks of skin they cast off and the strands of fur they shed, they leave an identifying mark wherever they go.
A single drop of water or a small amount of soil from a particular location can tell scientists a great deal about an animal’s presence in the environment, like where and how often they frequent an area. This is essential for monitoring numbers of endangered species.
eDNA can help with rapid, sensitive and cost-effective monitoring of native species, giving scientists a better way of understanding their movements. This in turn means more effective management to protect our valuable wildlife.
The benefits of using this technology over traditional monitoring such as traps and cameras include:
greater sensitivity and a higher chance of detecting a species
more cost efficient than traditional techniques
higher accuracy, and therefore fewer false negatives
minimal environmental disturbance
low risk of introducing alien species and spreading disease.