"We found that our ‘soup' samples give us the same biodiversity information as the gold-standard datasets," said Yu. "They are also more comprehensive, many times quicker to produce, less reliant on taxonomic expertise, and they have the added advantage of being verifiable by third parties."
DNA Map Leads to Abundant, Tasty Chocolate: Analysis
Making population studies cheaper and easier can aid scientists and wildlife managers as they make decisions about conservation priorities and strategies.
"For instance, we showed that if the UK Forestry Commission ploughs up some of the grass-covered trackways that run between our endangered heathland habitats, populations of rare spiders, beetles, and other creepy-crawlies can reconnect along those trackways, helping to stave off extinction," said Yu.
Ecology Letters published Yu's study: "Reliable, verifiable and efficient monitoring of biodiversity via metabarcoding."
IMAGES: A viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus) in the Lake Erie region. (Kitchin and Hurst/Corbis)