Phytoplankton

Phytoplankton

Phytoplankton–organisms such as cyanobacteria, green algae, and diatoms–are good indicators of water quality. The problem is that they are tiny and you need a microscope–and a lot of training–to identify them. Good news is that all of the...
Helping tribes with bison

Helping tribes with bison

Jonah Ventures is proud to announce that we will be assisting Sitting Bull College in research on bison diet and performance. The research, funded by the USDA, represents a collaboration among three Tribal Colleges: Little Big Horn (Montana, Crow Nation), Sinte Gleska...
Vertebrate DNA in water

Vertebrate DNA in water

I remember the famous limnologist G. Evelyn Hutchinson was once mocked as supposedly believing that he could determine all there was to know about a lake simply by sticking one, perhaps two, fingers in a lake. I am not sure how many fingers it would take, but with...
Cattle diet across US

Cattle diet across US

One power of reconstructing diets with sequencing is to know what an animal had recently ate. Even more powerful is reconstructing diets for a large number of animals to infer how diets change over space or time. In the global change world, it is an open question...
Analysis of house dust for plant DNA

Analysis of house dust for plant DNA

Recent work by Noah Fierer and others (Craine et al. in press Aerobiologia) examined the distributions of plant DNA in dust inside and outside homes across the US. They sequenced of a chloroplast marker gene to identify the plant DNA found in settled dust collected on...
Testing representativity

Testing representativity

Just a quick note here. We had run some tests on mixtures of plants to see how representative our DNA data are of the relative proportions of the biomass of different three species that were mixed together. We put together 10 mixtures of leaves of 4 plant species. 2...
Extracting DNA from granivorous birds

Extracting DNA from granivorous birds

We recently had a request to sequence the diets of granivorous birds. This time, instead of fecals, we’d get crop samples. Grinding up tiny seeds can be difficult. Mortar and pestles are tough to use and have the risk of contamination. We started using...
Aquatic eDNA: phytoplankton

Aquatic eDNA: phytoplankton

Water quality changes quickly, which can make it difficult to assess. Scientists have long relied on the biological communities of water to serve as indicators of water quality integrated over time. These are typically invertebrates or fish. But each taxa indicates...
Aquatic eDNA

Aquatic eDNA

A new area that we are currently exploring is sampling water for environmental DNA in order to reconstruct biotic assemblages. In general, the organisms present in a stream or lake provide an index of the quality of the water.  Since different species have different...
Sequencing northeast US moose diet

Sequencing northeast US moose diet

A researcher had sent along some moose samples collected from Hubbard Brook for us to run for plant diets. This was just a preliminary study, but the results were pretty amazing. Winter and summer diets were clearly distinguished and even samples that had likely been...