If you open a few recent journals with a focus on conservation or ecology, the chances are that you won’t be too far away from a paper that uses environmental DNA (eDNA). In fact, Biological Conservation currently has a special issue on environmental DNA as a tool for conservation, which I’ve added to my reading list for #365papers.
Genetics has been a handy tool for conservationists for a few decades now, and since the 1990s non-invasive genetic analyses, have become increasingly common. More recently, the revolution in high throughput and massively parallel DNA sequencing technologies has allowed us to tackle questions that were thought impossible even just a few years ago, including complex investigations of mixed environmental samples. You can measure biodiversity from the DNA in a soil or water sample. You can study the diets of cryptic predators through genetic analysis of their faeces. It’s all very exciting!