Become a CALeDNA Community Scientist

Our goal is to improve biodiversity monitoring in California. We need the help of volunteer community scientists in order to achieve that goal.

What can a CALeDNA Community Scientist do?

1. Collect soil samples

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You will go out into the field and use an eDNA sample collection kit to  collect soil and sediment samples from UC Reserves and other natural areas around California.  You can collect a single sample or as many as you want!  

You can either join a bioblitz to collect samples with other community scientists and researchers or you can request a kit to collect samples on your own.

You will record location data for each sample, using a webform on a smartphone. But if you don't have a smartphone, we can help you find a way to submit precise location data via handwritten field notes. 

2. Explore eDNA results

As this program grows, we will be accumulating lots of results. We hope that you stay involved to explore the patterns of biodiversity your samples have revealed through eDNA. This can mean looking through our "Explore Data" section, thinking about what questions and hypotheses we should ask, and sending us an email to let us know your ideas about what eDNA might be able to tell us.

3. Communicate with research scientists

With every volunteer, we build a relationship between them and real scientists in California. That communication helps the scientists learn what is important to the greater community, and helps influence how we can try to shape policy.

We even have internship programs for qualified candidates where you can get some lab experience too!

How can I become a CALeDNA Community Scientist?

  1. Register with our site.

  2. Complete the Safety Training and Kit Training.

  3. Complete the Safety Quiz and Kit Quiz.

  4. Sign up for a bioblitz or contact us to get a kit.

What happens to the samples collected by CALeDNA Community Scientists?

Your samples and photos will be published on our site so people can see where collections have been made.

We select a subset of samples, usually 25%, for eDNA processing. Sometimes samples are processed immediately if there is a research project happening that needs the data right away. Sometimes samples get processed later. We'll keep you posted along the way and also publish results on this website.

A sample can contain DNA from a few thousand organisms, including microbes like bacteria, archaea, micro- and macroscopic algae and fungi, and of course, lots of plants and animals. We will highlight the species we think are the most important to science and management, such as invasive or threatened species that people should monitor.