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Ecological DNA 101: How does technology protect the Planet?

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How does technology protect the Planet
Environmental DNA, or eDNA, is found in soil, water, and air samples.

Environmental DNA (eDNA) is transforming scientists’ knowledge of ecosystems. This cutting-edge device can collect genetic material from dirt, water, or air without sampling living beings. EDNA monitoring—a sensitive, practical, and non-invasive technique to quantify biodiversity—is becoming essential to ecological study as technology progresses.

In current science, eDNA is crucial. Conventional biodiversity monitoring requires species collection and identification. This may be costly, time-consuming, and harmful to animals and their habitats. Alternatively, eDNA can determine a species’ presence and abundance by evaluating its genetic footprints in the environment. The more attentive approach may reveal tiny ecological differences that are usually neglected.

EDNA is crucial to ecology and conservation biology. Applications include monitoring endangered species, detecting invasive species, and assessing environmental changes. This page discusses eDNA’s basics, uses, pros, cons, and future developments. It emphasizes the relevance of this cutting-edge technology in preserving biodiversity.

What is environmental DNA (eDNA)?

Environmental DNA, or eDNA, is found in soil, water, and air samples. Excretion, skin cell loss, or disintegration cause it in living beings. Even without seeing or capturing animals, eDNA may identify species in an area.

Environmental samples like soil or river water are needed for eDNA analysis. Testing occurs before DNA is extracted from these sources. Water is highly filtered to remove genetic material. DNA may be extracted from dirt using specific equipment.

Cleaning and amplifying extracted DNA using PCR produces enough DNA for study. They identify species by comparing DNA sequences to genetic databases.

Comparing Biodiversity Assessment Methods

Traditional biodiversity study involves direct animal observation or collection, which may be time-consuming and harmful to the ecosystem. These methods may miss uncommon or elusive species.

EDNA is unusual since it is non-invasive and can identify tiny amounts of DNA from different species. This suggests scientists might finish biodiversity studies without damaging the environment. EDNA may be used in many situations, including those that are hard to reach or survey.

Using eDNA to track biodiversity and conservation.

One of the biggest uses of eDNA is biodiversity monitoring. Scientists may identify many species in an area using eDNA samples. This aids rare or endangered species monitoring. Conservationists utilise eDNA to track species populations and analyse their changes. Conservation decisions may be made using this knowledge.

Non-native animal observation.

Invasive species may harm ecosystems by outcompeting native species and changing their surroundings. Early identification of invasive species is possible using eDNA. By recognising invasive species’ genetics in environmental samples, scientists may stop them before they damage the ecology. Environmental health relies on this early warning system.

Evaluations of Environmental Impact

eDNA is utilised in environmental impact assessments. It’s crucial to understand the area’s biodiversity before starting any construction or other ecosystem-impacting projects. eDNA quickly and accurately identifies species, ensuring that environmental impacts are properly examined. Thus, planning and implementing environmental initiatives is easier.

Use of eDNA Benefits Non-invasiveness

The non-invasiveness of eDNA technology is a major benefit. Biodiversity studies sometimes include trapping or uprooting animals, which might hurt them. However, obtaining eDNA needs just soil or water samples and no direct touch with living creatures. Researching ecosystems this way is more ethical and less damaging.

Cost-Effectiveness

Compared to traditional survey techniques, eDNA is cheaper. It may be able to collect and evaluate eDNA samples faster and cheaper. This lets scientists monitor more species and cover more area on a budget. Due of its efficacy, eDNA may replace intensive biodiversity monitoring.

Improved sensitivity and specificity

Another feature of eDNA is its high sensitivity and specificity. Researchers may uncover uncommon or difficult species using DNA since it can be detected in tiny amounts. Moreover, eDNA analysis can differentiate closely related species and accurately assess an area’s biodiversity. This specificity is needed for effective conservation and management.

Limitations of eDNA: Technique and Methodology

Even if eDNA is practical, methodological and technical challenges remain. Contamination—DNA from other sources combining with the sample—can lead to erroneous results. Clean sample methods and competent laboratory techniques decrease this risk. Some research organisations may struggle to find eDNA extraction and amplification equipment and expertise.

Evaluation of outcomes

Interpreting eDNA data may be difficult. DNA may stay in an environment long after an organism has died, therefore its presence does not necessarily indicate its presence at that time. Researchers must carefully assess sample context to avoid misconceptions. Accurate results need knowledge of the target species’ ecology and DNA degradation dynamics.

Environmental eDNA Degradation Factors

Several environmental factors may degrade eDNA. Temperature, pH, and microbial activity may impact DNA survival. For instance, higher temperatures and microbial activity may accelerate DNA degradation and underestimate species occurrence. These elements must be considered while designing and assessing investigations.

Future eDNA research and technology.

EDNA research is rapidly growing and requires technology. New DNA sequencing technologies like next-generation sequencing can investigate eDNA samples faster and more accurately. These advances expand the usage of eDNA, allowing for more in-depth ecological dynamics and biodiversity studies.

Possible new uses moving forward

As eDNA technology advances, new applications emerge. For instance, eDNA is being studied to detect animal diseases and infections, which might affect public health and conservation. By examining sedimentary DNA, eDNA may reveal ancient ecosystems, biodiversity, and environmental changes. Due of its versatility, eDNA offers several possibilities for future research.

EDNA needs further research to attain its full potential and overcome its current challenges. This requires improving DNA extraction and analysis, sampling methodologies, and eDNA data interpretation models. Scientists, environmentalists, and politicians must collaborate to improve eDNA research and secure its usage in environmental monitoring and conservation.

Olivia Miller is a journalist and blogger regularly collaborating with media outlets and writing about entrepreneurship, brand authority and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

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How Entrepreneurs Are Leveraging Threads for Business in 2024

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A male hand holding a smartphone with a Threads app logo on the screen.
According to Meta, Threads has now over 175 million monthly active users | Photo: Julio Lopez

Threads is now 1 year old. Although the Meta-owned platform launched last summer is still far from the desired 1 billion users dreamed by Mark Zuckerberg, the text-based social media app is not one to be ignored, with over 170 million monthly active users, up from 150 million people sharing content on Threads in the first quarter of 2024.

Threads for Business – a Year Down the Road,’ features the trajectory of the app to date, from a historic launch that saw the platform acquire 100 million users in just two days in 2023, to its user base drop of more than 80% within a week and the delay to launch within the European Union due to strict privacy laws. But mostly it is a book featuring valuable tips on how businesses, big and small, can leverage the platform as part of their social media strategy in 2024. The book includes a selection of articles published on Euronewsweek about how businesses are using the text-based app, along with new exclusive chapters featuring Threads users, business owners, and marketing professionals who are integrating Meta’s products into their social media strategies.

For Robert Calderon, Marketing Manager at Dalvey, a family-owned luxury men’s apparel and accessories company based in the Highlands of Scotland, Threads can be a useful tool when used properly. “Instead of generic marketing tactics, embrace storytelling to create meaningful connections. Share captivating narratives that highlight your brand’s values, mission, and behind-the-scenes stories. Fostering an emotional connection with your audience will build trust and loyalty, ensuring long-term success on Threads,” says Calderon.

“For the past 12 months, I have interviewed over 100 business owners and marketing professionals who shared their experiences, hacks, and strategies to make the most of Threads, whether to help build your personal brand or take your business to the next level. It was a learning process for myself as well, as the platform kept evolving and everyone was trying to understand how to make sense of it,” says London-based Threads for Business’s author Marcio Delgado, a journalist and digital consultant.

Image of Journalist and Author Marcio Delgado sitting on a red chair
Marcio Delgado – Journalist and author

Having worked with brands and content creators in Europe, Asia, and North America, the author structured the book in a simple way, mixing Threads’ timeline of existence with hacks to be used to grow followers and engage customers while using the social network – the app that debuted in the US and other 100 countries in July 2023 and five months later became available to 448 million people living in the EU.

For those looking to learn how entrepreneurs are leveraging Threads for business in 2024, Molly Blanco, Director of Social Media Marketing at consumer feedback firm Reputation and a regular user of the text-based social platform, suggests that getting out of your comfort zone can be a good start, no matter the size of your endeavour.

“When integrating Threads into your content strategy, test messaging and content that is a bit outside of your brand’s comfort zone. Threads content that does well is witty and to the point – this is a great opportunity for more conservative or straightforward brands to think outside the box. At Reputation, we are taking this approach and viewing it as an opportunity to be more playful with our messaging,” reveals Blanco.

Threads for Business – a Year Down the Road’ by Marcio Delgado is now available on Amazon worldwide.

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How to use Lenses in Skype

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How to use Lenses in Skype
Snapchat is bringing Lenses to more than 80 million monthly active Skype users

Snapchat is bringing Lenses to more than 80 million monthly active Skype users.

The announcement, made in June, will allow Skype regular users to add Lenses to their conversations with friends and family. Dozens of Lenses are currently available to choose from, including glitter beards, disco glasses, and raining hearts.

Lenses have been created through Snapchat AR authoring tool, Lens Studio, and made available on Skype through our Camera Kit SDK, which allows partners to distribute Lenses in their own apps and websites. Lens Studio and Camera Kit also power AR experiences in Microsoft Teams, SwiftKey, and Microsoft Flip.

How to use Lenses in Skype

1. Open the Skype app on your Android or iOS device. Select a contact you’d like to chat with or open an existing conversation. Click the camera icon on the bottom right of your screen.

2. Select the smiling face icon to the right of the capture button to see all the fun Lenses available in Skype.

3. Once you’ve found one you want to use, click the check mark on the bottom right of the screen. Press and hold the capture button to record a video of yourself using the Lens. Once recorded, hit the image of your recording to review and make any edits you’d like to your video.

4. If you’re happy with what’s recorded, select the send icon on the bottom right of the screen (if you’re not, you can do another take and record again!).

5. Your video will appear in the chat. Hit the send button and your video with a Lens will be on its way to your contact

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How to use AI to scale your business

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AI can be utilised by all types of companies, from small startups to established firms. | Photo: Jason Goodman

The moment you decide to scale your business is incredibly exciting. Maybe you’ve got a great idea for a new sector or product you want to bring to your existing customer base. Or, you want to take your business from a part-time endeavour and make it your full-time livelihood. Regardless of your reason for deciding to scale up, it’s a significant commitment. As a result, you may be struggling to find the time to get started.

Taking the next step in your business can often feel like you’re venturing out of your comfort zone, but modern technology solutions are on hand to help. Artificial intelligence (AI) is breaking down barriers for entrepreneurs and big business owners alike, allowing everyone to benefit from time management, invoicing and creative tools that previously may have required another hire within the team. That’s not to say that AI can replace humans; but for those at the start of their scaling journey, it can represent a smaller financial commitment before taking the plunge and hiring a full-time expert or assistant. Plus, it can speed up many repetitive or data-heavy tasks.

In this post, we explore four ways AI can help you to take your business to the next level.

Find more leads to target

Unless you’ve got an inbox full of customers just waiting for you to release new products or services, the chances are that you’ll need to be proactive when it comes to getting new leads and converting those into sales. Trawling the internet to find stockists, brands who might want to work with you or even just looking through your own database of people who have purchased something previously is extremely time consuming.

AI can take on these tasks for you, meaning that you simply have to review the information and then decide on whether to get in touch with these contacts personally. Additionally, it can help you with creating customer personas and gathering audience insights, hopefully increasing your chances of success once you do pitch.

Increase your marketing capacity

Part of running a successful business is being known and seen in the marketplace, allowing you to remain competitive. In the modern world, that means you need to cover a huge variety of platforms, each with their own unique content strategy. Considering that includes everything from social media to email newsletters, that gives you a lot to do.

AI can help by creating outlines for emails or posts that you can then review and add your personal touch to, significantly reducing the time you need to spend on this task. Or, it can take content you’ve already rewritten and repurpose it for a different platform and audience, allowing you to extend your reach with minimal effort.

Automate and track your finances

Hopefully, as you increase your offering, your number of sales will also increase – but with that comes a rise in the number of invoices you need to create. Financial tasks are one of the areas where AI can be invaluable, as it’s a data-oriented process, which is where this technology tends to excel.

Setting up your business on a platform that works with AI can allow you to automatically generate invoices when a certain trigger is hit – for example, the day after you’ve delivered a service for a client. Plus, it can recognise when invoices haven’t been paid, sending the customer a reminder that their bill is due.

From an accounting perspective, AI can track and categorise your expenses and income. Especially when you take on more employees, this can be incredibly useful, saving you hours of time and hassle when it comes to closing the month.

Gain key data insights

Making the right decisions about which direction to take your business in can be hard. You may have a gut feeling about which markets to target or products to create, but without evidence, it can be difficult to take the risk and put money behind this decision.

AI can help you understand the trends that are happening in your industry, as well as forecasting the impact certain decisions will have on your business. Whilst things can always change, having some data-driven insights into what your future might look like can help you understand how it might be best to progress.

Supercharge your business

AI is a tool that can be utilised by all types of companies, from small startups to established firms. Rather than looking to replace human input, AI can act as a helpful assistant, reducing the financial and time risk associated with scaling.

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