A citizen science project to sample creeks and rivers in the Mid Coast for environmental DNA (eDNA) culminates with the results being released in a public webinar during National Science Week, on Tuesday, August 16.
'Inspiring the Mid Coast with eDNA' was one of only 35 projects around Australia that was granted funding to undertake a National Science Week project.
The Manning River Turtle Group leads the project, supported by MidCoast Council, Charles Sturt University and the University of Canberra.
The project has three stages and started in May 2022, with a workshop at Knorrit Flat.
"We invited 10 community groups. Each of them had three members and the idea was to teach them about environmental DNA and then show them how to do the scientific sampling. And then they were given kits," explained Clare Rourke of the Manning River Turtle Group.
"This emerging technology is increasingly being used to survey the biodiversity of waterways."
For the second stage, the 'citizen scientists' then went out and sampled water from all over the Mid Coast: Dingo Creek, the Bowman, Gloucester and Avon Rivers, Lansdowne River, Bulga Creek, Killabakh Creek, Coolongolook River, Copeland Creek, Mammy Johnsons River, Mill Creek, Booral Creek, Mooral Creek, Nowendoc River, Charity Creek and Wallamba River.
The samples were then sent to the University of Canberra who processed them, matching them against 'primers' - short pieces of DNA already collected from living creatures. The results were then sent to the researchers to be collated.
"The third stage is this National Science Week webinar, where those results are going to be announced," Clare said.
Although the Manning River Turtle Group is leading the project, everyone involved in the project know they will not find any evidence of the endangered turtle in any of the samples - there is currently no DNA primer for the Manning River helmeted turtle.
As for what they do find - whether that be platypus, marsupials like water rats, fish, invertebrates, reptiles or amphibians - that will be made known when the results are announced on the webinar.
If you wish to find out what the surveys showed, register for the webinar at www.eventbrite.com.au/e/387327816927. Register soon as places are limited.
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