eDNA testing Acorn Ecology

Technology and biochemical advances in recent years have opened up more optionsto us when it comes to identifying possible ecological constraints to your projects.

25th April 1953 the DNA Double Helix was discovered in Cambridge, England, following work by Crick (physicist), Watson (biologist), Wilkins (physicist) & Franklin (chemist). 63 years on and ecology (the science that combines these three core sciences) is making use of this discovery.

At present eDNA testing is used for great crested newts but studies are underway looking at options for other protected species and extending the seasonality of surveys. For newts, eDNA can be used:

  • From mid-April to late June
  • To determine presence/absence in a water body. So if a positive result is returned the six traditional surveys will be required.

It is hoped in the future the window will be extended and also be able to give an indication of population size as the sensitivity of techniques are advanced.

New technology and techniques used in ecological surveys are usually a result of research in other areas, e.g. medicine (DNA) and military (night-vision cameras) and rarely get direct and specific funding; the environment is often lower on the list for funding priorities and grants.

Another use of DNA analysis, which has been around for longer, is testing bat droppings to confidently determine species – particularly useful when species are otherwise very similar. This more specific knowledge helps us focus and make mitigation more specific so increasing the benefits that your projects can contribute to biodiversity and planning policies.

We are now in the peak window for both traditional and eDNA surveys for great crested newts so if you have ponds in or near your site get in touch to avoid up to a year delay to your project.

For help and advice, call your nearest branch:

Exeter: 01392 366512

Bristol: Tel: 0117 923 2768 / Mobile: 07971 994324

Guildford: Tel: 01483 382821 / Mobile: 07443 652988