Expression of interest

Environmental DNA (eDNA) analyses are rapidly gaining attention from the research and natural resource management communities as a potentially fast, universal, accurate and cost-effective way to measure state and change of biodiversity assets and biosecurity threats. The need for scalable biological monitoring is particularly acute for Australia, because of its high biodiversity, large geographic size and small human population (including the world’s largest marine reserve estate). Similarly, New Zealand’s diverse interior landscapes and coastlines rely on innovative approaches for biotic surveying. Over the last few years, the eDNA field has grown sizeably and is characterised by great diversity of practice at the field, laboratory, bioinformatic, and interpretive stages. Globally, standardisation is receiving attention, but is far from settled, and little progress towards that has been made in Australia and New Zealand.
Recently a group of Australian eDNA practitioners began to meet with a view to forming a community of practice and potentially a formal body to promote the uptake of eDNA by government and industry, and best practice. A number of national and state-wide eDNA and associated initiatives are under way or in planning. There has not yet been a national conference on eDNA research in Australia, thus the scope for sharing of practice and experience is limited to existing networks.
Here, we propose an Australian/New Zealand eDNA conference (ideally face to face) in 2021/22 with the express purpose of building a network of practitioners and end users (including prospective) in the Australasian region. We believe that doing so will accelerate the development of and adoption of best practice, increase the pace of science innovation, and promote the uptake of eDNA data streams into environmental management. It may also put momentum behind formation of a formal industry body and promote large multi-stakeholder initiatives.
We seek expressions of interest in attending the proposed AUS/NZ eDNA conference (expected event date between Nov 2021-March 2022) and/or interest in a conference organisation role, i.e. for the main conference committee. We will seek session/workshop chairs at a later date based on proposed topics.