Investigation of eDNA air sampling as a tool for bat conservation and management: implications for mine reclamation and closure planning
A new method to determine whether wildlife are present in certain habitats has been developed that involves collecting environmental samples (water, soil, air) and testing them in a laboratory for the presence of cells and tissue that have been shed by wildlife into their environment. These cells and tissue can include hair, saliva, skin cells, faeces, urine, and once shed are referred to as environmental DNA or eDNA. This project will test whether the presence of bats in underground mine habitats can be detected by sampling the air from inside the mine and testing it in the laboratory for the presence of bat eDNA. The results of this research will demonstrate the strengths and limitations of eDNA air sampling for bats and will guide improvements if necessary. Effective, safe, and cost efficient methods to identify and monitor underground mine sites used by bats are critical to balancing the needs of wildlife with mine closure and reclamation.