EWN Engagements

N-EWN Seminar: Improving Biological Surveys with Environmental DNA


The Network for Engineering With Nature® (EWN) invites you to the N-EWN Knowledge Series: A Continuing Education Series about Engineering with Nature—Improving Biological Surveys with Environmental DNA, with Nathaniel Marshall of Stantec. This 1-hour Zoom webinar took place Thursday, July 20, 2023, at 12:30pm ET.

Presenter: Nathaniel Marshall, PhD
Title: Improving Biological Surveys with Environmental DNA
Date: July 20, 2023
12:30-1:30pm ET on Zoom

Dr. Nathaniel Marshall is an Environmental Scientist with expertise in environmental genomic applications. Nate has experience developing and implementing eDNA methodology for biological surveys. Over the past eight years, he has developed eDNA applications for early detection of aquatic invasive species and has expertise with freshwater macroinvertebrate and fish communities. Within Stantec, Nate develops eDNA sampling plans to provide an efficient and cost-effective biological survey tool for clients and end users.
Engineering with Nature and Nature-based Solutions (NbS) have the potential to improve the climate and environment, as well as benefit human health and the economy.  However, it is often difficult to efficiently manage and measure the biological success (or failure) of large-scale NbS projects. Current methods for measuring success rely on traditional biological surveys, which are time-intensive, costly, and typically do not provide informative data across large spatial and temporal scales. Therefore, surveying biodiversity with environmental DNA (eDNA), i.e., genetic material shed from all organisms into their surrounding environment, provides a simplistic and cost-effective survey tool to efficiently measure biological communities.  While traditional monitoring tools are biased in their survey catch, for example a fyke net is going to be used to catch fish, eDNA has the potential to capture information on the entire tree of life, everything from bacteria pathogens to endangered leatherback sea turtles.  

Environmental DNA has rapidly revolutionized environmental monitoring, and has a wide range of applications, including the early detection of invasive species, determining presence of threatened and endangered species, evaluating harmful pathogens, description of entire fish communities, and providing biodiversity measurements.  This tool can help measure biological success of an engineering with nature project, to ensure long-term ecosystem resilience.

For previously recorded seminars, please visit the N-EWN Seminars page.

Point of Contact

Environmental Scientist, Stantec


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