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eDNA Helps Track Endangered Gouldian Finch

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Hub researchers from Charles Darwin University collaborated with scientists from The University of Western Australia and the Northern Territory’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources to develop a genetic probe that targets and identifies the eDNA of the endangered Gouldian finch (Erythrura gouldiae), a rainbow-coloured grassfinch endemic to the savanna woodlands of northern Australia.

The study, published in Endangered Species Research, showed that Gouldian finch eDNA could be reliably detected from a 200 mL water sample collected from waterholes visited by the birds in the previous 48 hours. At waterholes with the highest number of birds, Gouldian finch DNA was still detectable 14 days after sample collection, regardless of whether the sample was stored at room temperature or refrigerated.

The research, led by Professor Karen Gibb of Charles Darwin University, is part of a larger Hub project that is developing eDNA techniques to detect endangered animals across the Top End.

Reference: Day et al. 2019. Development and validation of an environmental DNA test for the endangered Gouldian finch. Endangered Species Research. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00987. 

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