Seeking student with an interest in genetics and optimal survey design

eDNA may revolutionise surveys for cryptic invasive species such as the cane toad, but is eDNA more cost-efficient than traditional survey methods?

QAECO is seeking an honours or postgraduate student with an interest in genetics and environmental monitoring. The successful candidate will work with researchers from Bio21 and the School of Botany at the University of Melbourne to develop and test novel methods for conducting biodiversity surveys using environmental DNA (eDNA). eDNA can be used to detect species from water samples, and thus holds great promise for reducing survey costs (see a recent blog on this topic over at qaeco.com). However, there are numerous uncertainties associated with this technology. How many water samples should we take? How quickly does eDNA degrade, and what conditions accelerate DNA denaturation? How does a species’ abundance influence detection?

The successful candidate will attempt to answer these types of questions in the laboratory using invasive and endangered aquatic vertebrates as model systems. Optimal protocols determined in the laboratory will then be applied to field surveys around greater Melbourne. The results of these field surveys will then be used to compare the cost-efficiency of traditional and eDNA sampling strategies.

If this sounds like something that interests you, drop me a line at reid.tingley@unimelb.edu.au.

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