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Commentary: integrating environmental DNA into applied ecological practice


Environmental DNA (eDNA) methods and technologies are increasingly being explored and applied in research studies and environmental monitoring. Although eDNA has some limitations, there is the potential for major advantages to using this method within a regulatory context for characterizing and assessing species, populations, communities, and whole ecosystems. This commentary explores some of the challenges and solutions to acceptance of eDNA methods by regulators and regulated communities as an option for environmental monitoring. Increased collaborative eDNA forums and eDNA studies among researchers, regulators, applied ecologists, and regulated communities would help delineate the benefits, limitations, and appropriate applications of eDNA methods. This could facilitate development of best practices and industry standards which could, in turn, lead to acceptance by regulators and regulated communities. Finally, opportunities for applying eDNA to complement or even improve conventional monitoring methods are illustrated using three examples of regulatory environmental monitoring studies for protecting species at risk.

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Thank you to Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. for providing funding support for JMK.

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Correspondence to Douglas Bradley.

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Petruniak, J., Bradley, D., Kelly, J.M. et al. Commentary: integrating environmental DNA into applied ecological practice. J Environ Stud Sci 11, 6–11 (2021).

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  • eDNA
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Biodiversity
  • Cost-benefit analysis
  • Industrial development