Metabarcoding and Other DNA Analyses

Metabarcoding refers to the identification of species assemblages from community DNA (i.e. DNA from a mixture of different organisms in a sample) using barcode Genes (i.e. genes able to be used to identify the source organism). This technique can identify hundreds of species in each sample, and 100+ different samples can be processed in parallel. This is a different technique to eDNA qPCR testing described here.

We work closely with technical experts NatureMetrics who can analyse samples using metabarcoding techniques for a variety of community assemblages including:

  • Fish
  • Crayfish
  • Mammals
  • Amphibians
  • Vertebrates
  • Macroinvertebrates
  • Bacteria
  • Bivalves

Metabarcoding techniques can also be applied to soil and sediment samples targeting a range of different taxonomic groups (bacteria, soil fauna, eukaryotes and fungi).

Additionally, DNA-based techniques are available to be used on faecal samples to either identify the host species or its prey (diet).

If you would like to discuss the options available regarding DNA analyses please contact ecology@crestwoodenvironmental.co.uk or call 01902 229 563 (Vince Smith), alternatively visit NatureMetrics’s website to place an order directly.

Water Vole eDNA

Crestwood Environmental developed a technique for the detection of water vole (Arvicola amphibius) environmental DNA (eDNA) alongside experts at the University of Wolverhampton using an innovative method for quickly and accurately detecting their presence in aquatic habitats from analysis of a simple water sample.

The technique utilises a methodology based on the technique used for the well-established great crested newt eDNA analysis technique, adapted to account for the varied habitats used by water voles.  Used in combination with traditional survey methods or as a stand-alone survey technique, eDNA analysis provides accurate and reliable detected or not-detected results for water vole at a specific aquatic location.

Advantages of using qPCR eDNA analysis for water vole:

  • The eDNA technique will provide a reliable detected or not-detected result for water vole DNA at a site, even where habitats may not be optimal and where signs of presence are otherwise absent, or missed by inexperienced or non-professionals.
  • eDNA analysis is non-invasive for the water vole and non-destructive for the water vole habitat. At no point is the water vole handled or disturbed during the protocol and there is no need to damage water vole habitat throughout the sampling process.
  • The method requires low time and labour input, highly advantageous when many sites require surveys or time is limited.
  • The method can be used in conjunction with traditional survey methods to provide an additional level of evidence (e.g. if there is disagreement over the likely presence/absence of the species). An example of a potential application includes monitoring re-introduction programmes or expansion/contraction of a species’ range.

Validation of the assay is ongoing – please contact ecology@crestwoodenvironmental.co.uk to learn more.