University of Victoria biochemist Caren Helbing is co-leading a Canada-wide research project called iTrackDNA that partners with Indigenous groups across the country to track biodiversity changes.
Using what’s known as environmental DNA (eDNA) technology, the research will analyze genetic material shed from organisms into their surrounding environment.
Indigenous ecological knowledge will now go hand-in-hand with the research-driven knowledge system to closely study food security, human and animal health, education and other economic and social activities.
“eDNA will revolutionize what we know about species in the environment,” Helbing said in a release. “With better, timely information grounded with Indigenous ecological knowledge, we can launch more effective strategies to counter invasive species and protect those at risk.”
This research is expected to produce valuable data on ecosystem health and help in making respectful and efficient natural resource management decisions. Computer predictive models will also be utilized to determine the best sites for species re-introduction, as well as other land management practices.
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