Advantages of the eDNA approach

The environmental DNA approach has many advantages over traditional surveying methods:

  • Higher chance of detecting a species: in general, the eDNA approach gives better results in species detection than traditional methods. The technique’s high sensitivity applies especially when a species occurs at a low density. This is shown schematically in the grave on the right. There are already many examples of studies in which a species was detected with the eDNA technique while traditional methods failed to detect them. 
  • Cost efficient : collecting water samples takes much less time than carrying out a survey in a traditional way . Sampling for eDNA can be done by one person while traditional methods, such as electro-fishing or seine fishing, need at least two people. The costs attached to collecting and analyzing a water sample are therefore lower than that of traditional surveying techniques. 
  • Accurate : identification errors in difficult taxonomic groups will no longer occur because the eDNA technique works with species-specific primers. Species identification in the field is no longer necessary?  
  • No disturbance : it is no longer necessary to disturb the habitat of vulnerable species in order to establish their presence. 
  • Less risk of introducing alien species and spreading disease : sampling for eDNA uses sterile materials. Moreover, the person monitoring does not need to enter the water, thus the unintentional introduction of invasive species or diseases such as Chytridiomycosis is reduced to a minimum.

Grafiek die het verschil laat zien tussen de detectiekans tussen traditionele methoden en environmental DNA bij een afnemende dichtheid van de doelsoort.

The graph above compares the detection chance of the target species by traditional methods (green) and the eDNA technique (orange) as the density of the species decreases. At lower densities, the chance of detecting the species declines much faster when traditional methods are used than with the eDNA technique!

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