Yorkshire Water has become the first UK water company to join the 1000 Rivers eDNA project, a new and exciting non-profit citizen science project led by NatureMetrics in collaboration with the University of Hull and other partners.

The project encourages everyone, from companies to scientists, to use groundbreaking environmental DNA (eDNA) monitoring provided by NatureMetrics to gather vital information on fish species from river systems. The project will form the basis for a long-term eDNA monitoring programme that will enable early detection of invasive species, such as pink salmon, as well as providing broader information on fish communities across a wide variety of types and conditions of rivers.

Rather than catching all the fish to find out ‘who lives where’, the project uses eDNA to identify the footprints that species leave behind. eDNA is genetic material shed by animals into their environment, which can be isolated from water or soil samples and used to identify the species found there. eDNA analysis is able to generate large statistically powerful datasets, with samples taken by anyone and anywhere. Species can be identified at any life stage and even at low detection limits, meaning the approach is especially useful for identifying invasive species before they establish and conserving rare and endangered species before they go extinct.

There are escalating threats to waterways around the world, with only 14% of England’s rivers considered to be a healthy status and freshwater species declining faster than any other group. Increasing the available pool of baseline data is essential for any conservation efforts, providing the robust evidence basis required for management decisions. This project will update our entire knowledge of where certain species, such as the invasive pink salmon, are living.

Yorkshire Water Invasive Species and Biosecurity Advisor, Rachel Naden, said: “We are delighted to have joined the 1000 Rivers Project and do our bit to help native species.

“The environment is one of our five big goals and a vital part of our strategy. We would encourage other water companies to sign up as this project will do a lot to give greater resilience to our rivers.”

Dr Kat Bruce, CEO of NatureMetrics, said “We are so excited that Yorkshire Water has joined the 1000 Rivers eDNA project and will now play an active role in collecting vital information on fish species around the UK. Data on freshwater communities has never been more vital, and environmental DNA holds enormous potential in allowing a rapid expansion of the database to include data that may not otherwise be obtainable using traditional methods for biodiversity monitoring.”

The consortium which is primarily organised by the Rivers and Lochs Institute, University of Hull and Nature Metrics is looking for help within the region from local organisations, which is where Yorkshire Water has stepped in to make a difference. You can follow the progress of this project, or even follow in the footsteps of Yorkshire Water, by visiting www.1000rivers.net.

No Comment

Comments are closed.