Image that states Understanding Ecosystem Diversity

Environmental Monitoring

Environmental monitoring programs aim to address a variety of questions, from understanding baseline environmental characterization to assessing anthropogenic impacts and the subsequent remediation and restoration efforts.

Implementing environmental monitoring programs are challenging due to the overwhelming diversity of species that need to be characterized. In the past, our knowledge of ecosystem biodiversity has been fragmented in terms of species abundance, distribution and identity.


Environmental DNA

At BIO, new DNA-based methods are being developed to enhance environmental monitoring. These new methods can be applied to immature life stages that are not easily identified and can be used to detect the presence of species from the DNA they shed into the environment, referred to as environmental DNA (eDNA).


Environmental DNA is defined as: genetic material obtained directly from environmental samples (soil, sediment, water, etc.) without any obvious signs of biological source material. 

- Thomsen and Willerslev, 2015

Image introducing environmental DNA.

Environmental DNA has proven to be incredibly sensitive and is being applied by researchers at BIO to more effectively monitor ecosystems by detecting the presence of species of interest. Researchers at BIO are applying these new tools at the landscape scale in both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. At BIO, we work in collaboration with a diverse array of partners, including governmental and non-governmental organizations, environmental consulting firms and primary industry. We aim to make these valuable tools accessible for both current and future environmental monitoring needs in any sector of society.  


Further Resources

More Information 

To learn more about the work being done, explore the websites of the lab's involved in this type of research.