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There, In the Water

A bug thought to be locally extinct near the River Dee in the UK has been surviving under the radar, the New York Times reports. Now, it adds, researchers will be able to keep a closer eye on it using environmental DNA.

It notes that the scarce yellow sally stonefly was always rare — scarce is in its name — but that conservationists were getting ready to declare it locally extinct when the freshwater biologist John Davy-Bowker was able to find a single specimen. Based on that, the University of Derby's Quentin Mauvisseau isolated and sequenced the insect's DNA, which then became the basis for an eDNA test. Using that test, researchers have found traces of the scarce yellow sally stonefly at half a dozen sites along the River Dee, as they reported in Scientific Reports last October.

"If it disappears again, we've got a better chance of detecting it," Davy-Bowker tells the Times.

Similar approaches, the Times reports, have also been used to keep tabs on Canadian lynxes, Australian sea lions, and other endangered species as well as on invasive species.