DNA (Working Group)

  • UKDNA-WG Chair: Andy Nisbet (Natural England)
  • Secretariat Lead: Dan Read

DNA has a range of potentially valuable applications in environmental monitoring, from detecting rare or invasive species through to characterising whole communities. This provides major opportunities to improve both the comprehensiveness and the efficiency of monitoring. Because the technology is evolving rapidly, translating this potential into practice requires good links between researchers and end-users in government and other organisations.

The UKEOF, through the UK DNA Working Group (UKDNA-WG), facilitates dialogue and collaboration by providing a forum for the wide community of government agencies, academics and other stakeholders to discuss priorities and emerging developments in the use of DNA for environmental monitoring.


The DNA Working Group will:

  1. Link researchers, developers of DNA-based monitoring methods, and end users to ensure that activities are focussed on meeting priority information needs and that knowledge is transferred effectively within the wider community (see diagram below).
  2. Support and encourage best practice and the development of standards for using DNA-based species monitoring methods.
  3. Engage and work collaboratively with others nationally and internationally, seeking opportunities to influence research, share best practice and facilitate re-use of samples and data.
  4. Increase awareness of where and how DNA-based methods can help improve the effectiveness of environmental monitoring.

UKDNA-WG structure

The diagram below shows the structure of the UKDNA-WG.

UK DNA Working Group structure diagram

The Working Group is managed by the UKDNA Steering Committee, which in turn is guided by the UKEOF Management Group. The UKDNA-WG chair (Andy Nisbet of Natural England) sits on the UKEOF Management Group.

The WG provides coordinating oversight of a number of Technical Groups. Each group brings together academics, end-users, and other stakeholders with interests in a specific area for more targeted discussion and collaboration on how to develop applications in this area. There are currently technical groups for the following areas of interest:

  1. Pond biodiversity
  2. Fish in lakes
  3. Phytobenthos
  4. Invasive non-native species
  5. Marine
  6. Terrestrial methods
  7. Invertebrates in rivers

Involvement in Technical Groups or the UKDNA network is open to anyone with an interest in this field – please refer to the Members Section.

The UKDNA-WG engages the wider community (or UKDNA network) on areas of work or planned events. The wider UK DNA Network receives correspondence on upcoming events and activities as well as the opportunity to feedback ideas and suggestions.

The UK DNA End Users Group is a subset of the UK DNA Working Group involving representatives of UK environmental and conservation agencies.

Annual conferences

The UKDNA-WG has held an annual conference since 2014. Programmes from past UKDNA-WG conferences are available below:


  • Harper, R.L. et al (2019). Prospects and challenges of environmental DNA (eDNA) monitoring in freshwater ponds. Hydrobiologia 826(1), 25-41. DOI: 10.1007/s10750-018-3750-5


Members of the UKDNA-WG are representatives of a broad DNA community and /or those with specific technical and/or policy relevant roles at a UK, European or international level. Participation aims to ensure balanced representation from government, academia, and the private and voluntary sectors from across the devolved administrations. If you would like to get involved or find out more information please contact the secretariat on office@ukeof.org.uk.

Current UKDNA-WG steering committee:

  • Allan Mcdevitt – University of Salford
  • Andrew Nisbet – Natural England
  • Ben Price – Natural History Museum
  • Bernd Haenfling – University of Hull
  • Cathy Bennett – Scottish Environment Protection Agency
  • Colin Bean – NatureScot
  • Daniel Read – UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
  • Debbie Leatherland – Natural England
  • Douglas Yu – University of East Anglia
  • Emma Keenan – Natural Resources Wales
  • Iveta Matejusova – Marine Scotland Science
  • Kat Bruce – NatureMetrics
  • Kerry Walsh – Environment Agency
  • Lori Lawson Handley – University of Hull
  • Martyn Kelly – Bowburn Consultancy
  • Nadia Barsoum – Forest Research
  • Paul Woodcock – JNCC
  • Phil Davison – Cefas
  • Simon Creer – Bangor University
  • Stefano Mariani – Liverpool John Moores University
  • Willie Duncan – Scottish Environment Protection Agency

Terms of Reference