Swarm Sensor

Unknown profit model, No IP to protect, Ideation Phase, Eager to add new members
Using mosquitos to help us understand the makeup of an ecosystem.

The Problem

Currently it's very expensive and difficult to identify if an invasive vertebrate species is completely wiped out from an island habitat. Camera trapping and sand trapping is very work intensive and takes a lot of people-power. These island habitats are also very remote and hard on technology. We need a better way to detect presence or absence of these invasive vertebrates in island habitats.

Our Proposal

Place a network of light & gravid-water mosquito traps around an island. Leave them for some time and then return for them. Sort the mosquitos and identify bloodfed individuals. Then use an iDNA assay to get a broad DNA view of all the species that those mosquitos have fed on! This approach should allow you to identify if there is or isn't a specific vertebrate species - say, cats or rats - in an ecosystem. Could be paired with the DNA Barcode Scanner to do that DNA identification in the field. Could only be used in areas with a bloodsucking parasite: leeches, mosquitoes, or ticks.

We Assume that...

That iDNA will be effective to identify many species in the field.

That the blood from parasites is still viable to be used in iDNA.

That this approach is cheaper, easier, or takes less people-power than current approaches.

That DNA assays can be done quickly and cheaply in the field.

Constraints to Overcome

I don't know that the iDNA approach has been thoroughly tested, it seems rather fledgling from what I can find, and I don't know much about it. Running the DNA assay in the field may be difficult - getting the resources to these remote islands. I also think that it will be difficult to keep the DNA from degrading in the field.

Current Work

To provide a tool for island conservationists to use in the field for their fight against invasive species.

Current Needs

Need genetics researchers, parasite researchers, and island ecologists to weigh in on this. It's an idea, a work in progress!