Does action to protect our eucalypt woodlands have any impact on the diversity of soil bacteria and mychorrizal fungi and can it be an indicator of woodland health?
Wheatbelt NRM have teamed up with soil experts Bioscience to develop a soil-sampling regime and undertake Environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis to see what is living in the soil. eDNA is genetic material left in the environment by organisms.
We can sample eDNA from soil, sediments and water to identify the presence of a species, without having to see or survey them. This is particularly useful for species that are very small, previously unidentified, or otherwise difficult to survey – such as fungi in the soil.
Using eDNA is a cost and time-efficient means of obtaining reliable species distributions, patterns and population size estimates.
Wheatbelt NRM are applying this technique to measure the diversity of soil biota, as part of the management of threatened woodland communities. The aim is to determine if management interventions have any impact on the diversity of soil bacteria and mychorrizal fungi that are known to be essential for the long-term health of woodland ecosystems.
The first round of samples were taken from 7 sites in spring this year and will be repeated in spring 2022. We look forward to presenting the initial results to you when the data is available.
This woodland project is supported through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.