Some critters in the ocean are reclusive, hiding from human probes and trawls. Other critters are rare, driven close to extinction from warming and increasingly acidic waters.
Studying rare and reclusive creatures has posed problems for scientists in the past. In recent years, environmental DNA, or eDNA, has helped. To isolate eDNA, scientists scoop water from the ocean.
Meghan Parsley has collected eDNA samples for her doctoral work at WSU Pullman, one part of which involves using the quantity of eDNA to estimate the population size of wood frog tadpoles in Connecticut.
“This is where the magic happens,” Parsley said, walking into a sparse, clean lab at Washington State University.
Keeping unwanted DNA out of the lab is tough and involves a lot of bleach. “I have lots of bleach-stained clothes,” Parsley said.