Vacuuming DNA Out Of The Air : Short Wave A few years ago, ecologist Elizabeth Clare had an idea--what if she could study rare or endangered animals in the wild without ever having to see or capture them? What if she could learn about them by only pulling data out of thin air? It turns out, the air's not so thin. There are bits of DNA floating around us, and Elizabeth figured out how to collect it. She talks to guest host Lauren Sommer about testing her collection method in a zoo, how another science team simultaneous came up with and tested the same idea and how DNA taken from the environment could revolutionize the field of ecology.

Read about the study here.

Vacuuming DNA Out Of The Air

Vacuuming DNA Out Of The Air

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A few years ago, ecologist Elizabeth Clare had an idea—what if she could study rare or endangered animals in the wild without ever having to see or capture them? What if she could learn about them by only pulling data out of thin air? It turns out, the air's not so thin. There are bits of DNA floating around us, and Elizabeth figured out how to collect it. She talks to guest host Lauren Sommer about testing her collection method in a zoo, how another science team simultaneous came up with and tested the same idea and how DNA taken from the environment could revolutionize the field of ecology.

Read about the study here.

Ecologist Elizabeth Clare collects DNA from the air. Elizabeth Clare hide caption

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Elizabeth Clare

Ecologist Elizabeth Clare collects DNA from the air.

Elizabeth Clare

This episode was produced by Berly McCoy, edited by Gisele Grayson and fact checked by Katherine Sypher. The audio engineer for this episode was Patrick Murray.