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  • Serra Perry

GVL Members At Picnic Day

Introducing eDNA for Endangered Species


Leigh Sanders (pictured below) designed an amazing Picnic Day activity for young minds to explore how environmental DNA can help us conserve endangered species in her exhibit titled "Endangered Species Detective".


"We introduced kids to environmental DNA and how it can non-invasively detect endangered animals from environmental samples (e.g., soil, water) using a hands-on approach where the kids got to practice 'sampling' from the environment to detect different species. To mimic an environment, we had a large container of rice. Kids were instructed to take an environmental sample (i.e., grab a cup of rice) and try to filter out any environmental DNA (i.e., beads on a string). Each bead of strings had a different pattern that could be matched to an endangered species. This was meant to symbolize the different genetic sequences for different species. Using a handout that showed the bead patterns for each species, the kids were instructed to match their beads to a particular species. Once they had identified the species, they were able to color in a paper ornament with their species. After they [were] done coloring it, we laminated it for them to keep." - Leigh Sanders


This exhibit was inspired by the "Non-Invasive Environmental DNA Monitoring to Support

Tidal Wetland Restoration" project where eDNA is being used to evaluate fish community compositions in restored wetlands. This work is funded by the Delta Science Program-Delta Stewardship Council and the Bureau of Reclamation, who supported this outreach effort. You can learn more about the project here.


Here are more photos of GVL members volunteering for Picnic Day!


What is Picnic Day?

Picnic Day has been a UC Davis tradition since 1909, and is a chance for prospective and current students, staff, faculty, families, and the general public to explore the university's "research, teaching, service, and campus life". Every April, UCD hosts this "open house" event with topics from neuroscience and learning California's fishes to free strawberry plants and a Doxie derby. This presents a unique opportunity for scientists like those in the GVL to interact with the public about their research. You can learn more about Picnic Day here.

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