© Michaela Sonnleitner
Institution: Austrian Barcode of Life – Koordination
Project lead: Nikolaus Szucsich
Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, Burgring 7, A-1010 Wien, Österreich
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Besides the climate crisis, the global biodiversity crisis is one of the biggest challenges for humanity. In order to protect our biodiversity and to detect changes at an early stage, a close-meshed monitoring of our environment is necessary. Modern molecular biological methods can play a key role in this. One of these is eDNA-metabarcoding, which uses specific sections of the DNA to detect organisms in environmental samples. For example, just one liter of water can be used to show what amphibians, fish and insects live in a pond. If such analyses are carried out regularly, the disappearance of species does not go unnoticed and, ideally, appropriate measures can be taken. However, the basic requirement for this is a reference database in which the so-called DNA barcodes of all organisms are stored and with which the DNA from the pond water can be compared. In Austria, ABOL (Austrian Barcode of Life) is committed to filling this reference database and making it accessible to the general public. ABOL cooperates with the largest national research institutions and is also active in international projects.

With the ABOL-BioBlitzes everyone has the opportunity to help building up this reference database! The ABOL-BioBlitzes usually take place at so-called "Tage der Artenvielfalt", which is organized by national parks, biosphere parks and associations. At these events biodiversity experts meet to survey the biodiversity in a defined area within 24 hours. However, these experts are not always employees of research institutes, but often private individuals, i.e. Citizen Scientists, who have often built up their expertise over decades. If a species, especially invertebrates, is found, identified by an expert and handed over to ABOL, ABOL arranges the creation of a DNA barcode and integrates it into a freely accessible database. In case an individual cannot be identified to species level by a Citizen Scientist, ABOL tries to have the species identified by international experts. In this way, even those who are not proven specialists in the respective organism groups can contribute. If a reference barcode is already available for a species identified by a Citizen Scientist, the identification can be genetically verified. However, if the genetic determination does not match the morphological determination, feedback is provided, giving the Citizen Scientist the opportunity to revise the determination. This feedback allows Citizen Scientists to further develop their own competencies. However, it is also possible that differences in the determination are so-called cryptic species, which in the best case can lead to a description of a new species.

The ABOL-BioBlitzes do not only fill the reference database as a basis for future monitoring, but also secures the acquired knowledge of private and professional experts in the long term. The results of the ABOL-BioBlitzes are published every two years in a scientific journal. All participants are invited to contribute to this publication. For those who not only want to collect organisms, but also learn the basic handling of barcoding data, ABOL also offers regular workshops!

What happened so far

The first ABOL BioBlitz took place in 2019 at the GEO-Tag der Natur in the Biosphere Reserve Nockberge, followed by nine more in a total of five provinces by the end of 2020. Forty experts collected 2,172 individuals or 1,040 species. DNA barcodes of most individuals could be generated and are available to national and international researchers in the barcoding reference database BOLD since 2022. A summary of the results was published in the journal Acta ZooBot with the collaboration of many ABOL BioBlitz participants. Numerous ABOL-BioBlitzes were also conducted in 2021 and 2022. The results of all previous ABOL BioBlitzes are summarized on the ABOL homepage, where reviews of each ABOL BioBlitz can also be found on the ABOL blog.

If you don't want to miss future ABOL BioBlitzes, you can also subscribe to the ABOL newsletter!

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Read 94 times| Last modified on Tuesday, 11 April 2023 17:18