Bioregional Identities through Environmental DNA of the Great Lakes

Backed by Wythe Marschall
$152
Pledged
7%
Funded
$2,500
Goal
4
Days Left
  • $152
    pledged
  • 7%
    funded
  • 4
    days left

About This Project

Combining art, ecology, genetics, and storytelling to protect and preserve biodiversity using environmental DNA (eDNA) from aquatic life in the Great Lakes.

eDNA captures genetic material in the environment, such as water, shed by organisms through skin cells, feces, or mucus.

By extracting and analyzing this eDNA, we can gain insights into the temporal dimension of a particular ecosystem. Detecting rare, endangered, or difficult to survey species.

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What is the context of this research?

Water Warriors combines art and science by transforming scientific data from environmental DNA analysis of the Great Lakes into evocative artifacts - using these as a snapshot or timecapsule of our bioregional diversity in our present day.

The vision is to engage a diverse audience in citizen science.

It also contributes to ecological research by collectively sampling and storing eDNA samples, informing conservation strategies and exploring human-ecosystem relationships.

This data will serve as the foundation for various artistic outputs, including one piece for each of the Great Lakes, creating a symbolic and immersive experience for the public, exhibiting the poetics of science based art works (sci-art).

What is the significance of this project?

The project aims to engage a diverse range of audiences, including local communities, environmental organizations, scientific researchers, artists, and the general public. By reaching out to local environmental groups from each sample site, I intend to collaborate closely with community members to determine the optimal sampling locations. This participatory approach ensures that the project aligns with local conservation efforts and addresses community concerns and priorities.For collaborators, the project offers an opportunity to actively contribute to biodiversity conservation efforts in their region. Engaging in the sampling process and witnessing the scientific analysis of eDNA samples fosters a sense of ownership and stewardship over local ecosystems.

What are the goals of the project?

Firstly, I will share detailed documentation of the project's progress, from the initial sampling process to the creation of artistic outputs. This will include regular updates, and informative videos explaining the significance of eDNA sampling and its impact on biodiversity conservation.

I will produce an audiovisual piece that provides an overview of the project, making complex scientific concepts understandable to a broad audience.

I plan to publish the findings in collaboration with Nature Metrics, to contribute valuable information to conservation efforts.

Once the project is completed, I showcase the research through art pieces. I hope to spark conversations about water health, biodiversity conservation, and the intersection of art and science within our community.

Budget

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External Services (eDNA Sequencing): $2,500Allocation for eDNA sequencing service providers such as Precision Biomonitorng, covering sequencing (metabarcoding), preliminary data analysis, interpretation, and collaboration with the artist.

Samples shipping costs: $1000 to get samples as soon as possible in cold storage to DNA sequencing provider Precision Biomonitoring in Ontario

Endorsed by

Catherine is an inspiration to all who work in the field of biology. It's truly unique how she blends art, science, and storytelling to make her visions a reality. I worked with her at the Fungi Academy while she created mycelial materials and showcased her plastic made from algae. We need more people doing this kind of work to show the possibilities when we partner with the more than human world. Her Water Warriors project is essential to conservation in the Great Lakes region and beyond.

Project Timeline

The work will be done in the Spring/Summer season of 2025 in Canada. It will involve travel to sample locations around the Great Lakes. I will partner with an eDNA Bank (i.e., Precision Biomonitoring or Nature Metrics, who have been past collaborators) for metabarcoding and recording data obtained from the collected eDNA samples. This collaboration will ensure the genetic data is accurately represented in the project's visualization and storytelling.

Apr 17, 2024

Project Launched

May 04, 2024

Project Launched

May 01, 2025

Develop specs for eDNA sampling/analysis. Budgeting: Get quotes for external services.Collaborations: Identify analytics labs and fabrication spaces, assess costs and access.

Jun 01, 2025

eDNA Water Sampling: Coordinate water sampling expeditions to the five Great Lakes in Canada. Arrange shipment of water samples to the lab for analysis.

Jul 01, 2025

Retrieve data from analytics lab. Assess data and plan pathways for visualization and aesthetics.

Meet the Team

Catherine Euale
Catherine Euale
Biological Artist and Researcher

Affiliates

S-BIOTICA Studio
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Catherine Euale

Catherine Euale, a Venezuelan-Canadian artist and citizen scientist, combines various disciplines such as bio art, conceptual art, open-source citizen science, microbiology, and digital fabrication. Her work explores the intricate connections between humans and other species, merging realms like biological arts, mycology, interspecies communication, bioethics, and ART-ivism.


Catherine's focus in on working with microorganisms, organic materials, wearable or sculptural pieces that are grown or partly alive. Her aim is to create a sense of biophilia - the innate desire and love for all living things. She aims heal the concept of the inanimate the objectified and the disposable by bringing context into our objects. Her work portrays their aliveness, through bio-materiality. She works in collaboration with algae, fungi, slime molds, bacteria and plants. She uses digital fabrication, electronics and 3D worldbuilding where applicable to create her pieces and their presentation in a space, crafting a holistic sensory experience.

Euale has showcased at exhibitions such as Dear 2050: Oceans on the Rise in Switzerland, Milan Design week on three ocasions, Dubai Cop28, MIT BioSummit. Her recognition and climate art award from Climanosco highlight her talent in effectively communicating scientific concepts and engaging audiences in critical discussions on biodiversity conservation.

Collaborating often with diverse and multidisciplinary teams, she ensures that the outcomes of her projects encompass thorough research, feasibility, and artistic value, materiality and emotional response. Her work is conscious of people, place, and biodiversity, and strives to give "voices" to the more than human world.


Additional Information

The process of creating these artistic outputs involves several steps. First, I will collect water samples from various aquatic environments in the Great Lakes and extract eDNA using established laboratory techniques (partnering with a metagenetics lab in Guelph, Ontario). Next, I will analyze the eDNA data to identify patterns and biodiversity indicators.Once the data is analyzed, I will translate the findings into amulets and objects that represent the diversity of species present in the water samples. Additionally I will embed a sample of the extracted eDNA into each corresponding piece (five in total, one for each of the lakes). This will serve as a speculative "time capsule" for future generations, serving as tangible reminders of our commitment to safeguarding biodiversity.


Project Backers

  • 2Backers
  • 7%Funded
  • $152Total Donations
  • $76.00Average Donation
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