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Biodiversity Monitoring Using eDNA

Rapid advances in the field of molecular genetics continue to provide new tools for research, management and conservation. During my master years at the university, friends and I set out to explore the potential use of environmental DNA (eDNA) for detecting species. Together with other early studies we demonstrated that a diversity of species - representing amphibians, fish, mammals, insects and crustaceans - can be detected and quantified based on DNA obtained directly from small water samples of aquatic systems. The papers further show that entire faunas of amphibians and fish can be detected by high-throughput sequencing of DNA extracted from pond water. Our findings established eDNA as a tool for monitoring rare and threatened species across a wide range of taxonomic groups. At the moment I’m involved in projects addressing questions related to the effectiveness of eDNA monitoring vs. traditional monitoring methods, linking eDNA to phenology of freshwater species and the detecting of aquatic invertebrates using eDNA.


Thomsen, P. F., Kielgast, J., Iversen, L. L., Møller, P.R., Rasmussen, M & Willerslev, E. (2012): Detection of a Diverse Marine Fish Fauna Using Environmental DNA from Seawater Samples. PLoS ONE 7(8): e41732. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041732 pdf

Thomsen, P. F., Kielgast, J., Iversen, L. L., Wiuf, C., Rasmussen, M., Gilbert M. T. P., Orlando, L. & Willerslev, E. (2012) Monitoring endangered freshwater biodiversity by environmental DNA. Molecular Ecology. 21: 2565-2573 pdf