California is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots thanks to its diverse habitats and climate. Within just one state, there are deserts, forests, beaches, chaparrals, vernal pools, and tons more! As the environment continues changing, communities need a fast and reliable way to monitor what lives, breathes, and passes by them. CALeDNA was founded in February 2017 as a community science approach to measuring biodiversity of California. This University of California-wide initiative collects biodiversity data from soil and sediment that has environmental DNA, or eDNA for short. eDNA can include saliva, blood, cells, and hair cells from organisms in the environment. Anyone, regardless of scientific experience, can collect soil samples and return the pre-labeled kits for free to UC campuses where researchers identify the fungi, bacteria, plants, and animals present at a given site. This non-invasive approach allows researchers to create a baseline list of organisms across all kingdoms of life, especially organisms that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Over 1300 users have sampled more than 1600 sites to identify over 28000 taxa thanks to support from the UC Catalyst Grant Program and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are not mailing out soil sampling kits. However, our citizen scientists are encouraged to explore eDNA results online and learn more about how we process samples at http://ucedna.com
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