Professional Development Workshop

June 16-25, 2022

Using Environmental DNA to Guide the Re-wilding of Akagera National Park

An essential key to conserving biodiversity is understanding the current and historic composition of biotic communities. Environmental DNA (eDNA) is a cutting-edge tool for doing just that. It takes advantage of the fact that animals and plants shed their DNA and that DNA can reside in the sediments for 100’s to 1000’s of years. This DNA can be captured and sequenced to allow us to build a picture of both past and current environments.

Participants in this workshop will gain hands-on experience with the many uses of eDNA. Akagera National Park will be our test case for using these tools to informing re-wilding efforts. The park currently harbors an unusually small number of mammal species. We don’t know if ‘missing’ species existed in the region in the past but were lost due to human activities, or whether they are naturally absent. We aim to understand biodiversity patterns in the park over the last 500 yeas and help park management make a plan for reintroductions.

The workshop will take place at the University of Rwanda (UR) and Akagera National Park. Participants will learn about eDNA and it’s many uses, how to collect eDNA samples from lake sediments, how to process those samples, and analyze the resulting data. After the workshop, participants will have the opportunity to work with the data from Akagera as it becomes available and to become authors on publications resulting from the workshop.

Participation in the workshop is free of charge. Lunches will be provided during each day of the workshop. Travel between UR and Akagera, and camping fees and meals in Akagera, will be arranged and paid for by the funders of the workshop. Participants are expected to arrange and cover their own travel expenses to Kigali and their room and board while in Kigali.

Applications are due by March 1st with decisions announced by March 15. For more information and to apply visit: https://www.cbi.ucla.edu/edna-workshop-kigali-rwanda