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Spiderwebs gather DNA that can help us monitor insects in forests

Spider webs collect DNA in forests that can alert us to invasive species

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Spiders may build their webs to catch prey, but trials in Slovenian forests have shown they can also moonlight as a way for humans to monitor the biodiversity of ecosystems.

Recent years have seen a growing interest in detecting species by collecting the fragments of DNA they shed in an environment, an approach that is often less invasive and quicker than traditional surveying with nets, trays and other equipment.

Matjaž Gregorič at the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts turned to an unusual tool …