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Field Biology: Environmental DNA
In decades past, tracking species in the wild might require experienced field guides, binoculars, and luck. Today, scientists increasingly are relying on DNA. By amplifying and sequencing trace amounts of environmental DNA (eDNA), typically from soil and water, researchers have been able to track rare, endangered, and invasive species with relative ease. They’ve also been able to survey regional biodiversity and how it changes, which has been particularly useful in hard-to-survey aquatic environments. Now technological advances offer the potential to complete such analyses faster than ever, and to provide richer community and even individual genetic data, sometimes without ever leaving the field.
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