As a CALeDNA community scientist, there are many ways to be involved. We're first asking you to go out into the field and collect eDNA samples from UC Reserves and other natural areas around California. As this program grows, we will be accumulating lots of results. We hope that you stay involved to explore the patterns of biodiversity your samples have revealed through eDNA. This can mean looking through our "Explore Data" page, thinking about what questions and hypotheses we should ask, and sending us an email to let us know your ideas about what eDNA might be able to tell us.
With every volunteer, we build a relationship between them and real scientists in California. That communication helps the scientists learn what is important to the greater community, and helps influence how we can try to shape policy.
It all starts with registering and sending us an email, or joining one of our bioblitzes. You'll get to use an eDNA sample collection kit. You can collect a single sample or as many as you want! We'll keep every single sample in our deep freezers at UCLA. We need location data for each sample, and provide you a webform to fill out as you're collecting your samples. But if you don't have a smartphone, don't be discouraged. We can help you find a way to get precise location data and you can just send us handwritten field notes.
Your samples and photos will soon end up in our online inventory so people can see where collections have been made. We select a subset of samples, usually 25%, for eDNA processing. Sometimes samples are processed immediately if there is a research project happening that needs the data right away. Sometimes samples get processed later. We'll keep you posted along the way and also publish results on this website. Results look like spreadsheets of a few thousand organisms, including microbes like bacteria, archaea, micro- and macroscopic algae and fungi, and of course, lots of plants and animals. We will highlight the species we think are the most important to science and management, such as invasive or threatened species that people should monitor.
We hope you'll stay in touch and join more bioblitzes. We even have internship programs where you can get some lab experience too!