Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Cave Sweet Cave

Sampling environmental DNA has enabled researchers to identify caves in which rare blind cave salamanders dwell, New Scientist reports.

The salamanders, also known as olms or baby dragons, live in caves throughout the Balkans, it adds, noting that they are only ever seen if heavy rains wash them out or if people go cave-diving. The salamanders are endangered and protected by law in a number of European countries, including Croatia.

Using eDNA, researchers from Hungary and elsewhere examined water samples from 15 caves in Croatia to find the presence of the olms in 10 caves they were known to be in as well as in five others, as they report in PLOS One. New Scientist adds that conservationists are now using the approach to map out where the salamander live.

Still, Matthew Barnes from Texas Tech University tells New Scientist that eDNA sampling is a complementary approach. "It's never going to replace the hard evidence of having a fish, or a blind salamander in your hands," he says.

Study author Judit Vörös of the Hungarian Natural History Museum agrees, noting that eDNA sampling has helped them identify additional caves with salamanders that they now can study in greater detail through traditional means.

The Scan

Hormone-Based Gene Therapy to Sterilize Domestic Cat

A new paper in Nature Communication suggests that gene therapy could be a safer alternative to spaying domestic cats.

Active Lifestyle Linked to Type 2 Diabetes Prevention in People at High Genetic Risk

A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that an active lifestyle goes a long way in type 2 diabetes prevention.

Beneficial, Harmful Effects of Introgression Between Wild and Domesticated European Grapes

A paper in PNAS shows that European wild grapevines were an important resource for improving the flavor of cultivated wine grapes.

Genetic Ancestry of South America's Indigenous Mapuche Traced

Researchers in Current Biology analyzed genome-wide data from more than five dozen Mapuche individuals to better understand their genetic history.