Questions for ‘Wildlife forensics turns to eDNA’

Scientists have found sea otter eDNA near the kelp forests where otters live. That helped them confirm that eDNA gives a real-time sample of their environment.

To accompany feature: Wildlife forensics turns to eDNA


Before Reading:

1.    If you wanted to find out if there were trout or another prized species of fish in a lake, how would you do that? Would such a task be easy or difficult? Why?

2.    What if you wanted to figure out how many different species of fish lived in a lake and what they all were? How might you determine that?

While Reading:

1.    Why are Burmese pythons a problem in the Florida Everglades?

2.    What are three ways that scientists are using environmental DNA (eDNA)?

3.    Name the four nucleotides found in DNA.

4.    What is PCR and what does it do to DNA?

5.    Why would scientists want to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes?

6.    What is biodiversity?

7.    What’s one big advantage to using eDNA to scout for endangered species?

8.    Why is it important that scientists know how fast eDNA breaks down in the environment?

9.    Can eDNA tell scientists how many individuals of a certain species are present in an area? Why or why not?

After Reading:

1.    If you wanted to find out if there were trout in a lake, would you use eDNA? Can you imagine any downsides to this method? (Hint: Could you do it?)

2.    If eDNA is cheaper and faster than traditional survey methods, why do scientists still conduct surveys?


1.    Burmese pythons are native to Southeast Asia but now can be found in the Florida Everglades. Find both places on a map. About how far away are they? Could the snakes have traveled that far without help from people?


1.    The biggest Burmese python ever captured in the United States was a female that was 5.36 meters long and weighed a whopping 74.4 kilograms. Convert her dimensions into feet and pounds. Now figure out how much she weighed per foot of length. Show your calculations.