Air pollution sensors can double as biodiversity monitors

Monday, June 5, 2023 - 10:43 in Earth & Climate

Imagine being able to get a “DNA report” that, based on traces of genetic material in the environment, lists all the plants and animals in the area, the way a daily weather forecast tallies precipitation, wind, and temperature. A pipe dream, scientists might once have said. But a paper published today shows that routine, remote biodiversity monitoring may soon be a reality . By tapping into existing air quality monitoring sensors, researchers have discovered a cheap way to census nearby species. “This paper is impressive because of its ingenuity,” says Chris Jerde, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara who was not involved with the work. Julie Lockwood, an ecologist at Rutgers University, another outside expert, says the study “presents a very good opportunity to...

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