Drifting down the Dubo River through Sapo National Park in Liberia, Shadrach Kerwillain, a project manager for Fauna & Flora International (FFI), takes a sample of fresh river water. It’s hard to see what lies beneath the surface of the turbid, fast-moving river, but the importance of that water is clear. Freshwater ecosystems supply drinking water, support inland fisheries, offer flood control and deliver nutrients to forests. Yet historically, they are understudied, underfunded and undervalued. Scientists rely on data gathered three to four decades ago while working in a race against time to figure out what freshwater ecosystems to conserve and what wildlife to prioritize. An eDNA survey team traveling to a freshwater survey point along the Dubo River in Liberia. Image courtesy of Fauna & Flora International. “If you don’t know where something is, it’s very hard to conserve it,” said Will Darwall, the head of freshwater biodiversity in the IUCN Global Species Program. To curtail the extinction crisis and support conservation efforts, IUCN and NatureMetrics announced a new partnership: the eBioAtlas program. Program partners will look at environmental DNA, or eDNA — the traces of genetic material left in the water by animals — to get information on biodiversity fast, especially from places lacking data. However, the eBioAtlas program is still in need of funding for the team to reach its goal of collecting 30,000 samples over the next three years. EBioAtlas partners are working to raise $15 million to reach their goal, Darwall said. A Sapo National…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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