This year we saw the ever-increasing potential of technology to improve conservation monitoring and efforts. The international Barcode of Life initiative, for example, has developed a new LifeScanner Lab-In-A-Box portable DNA barcoding kit that can be used by rangers, police and port-of-entry officials to rapidly identify the species of plant and animal samples found on suspected smugglers. Another team has developed a handheld portable DNA sequencing device that allows it to identify plants faster than before in the field. Researchers have also adapted widely used technologies, like thermal imaging video technology, to detect the impact of white-nose syndrome in hibernating bats.
Advancements in technologies have boosted the involvement of non-scientists in conservation — from contributing to polar bear identification to counting trees and monitoring their leafing, flowering and fruiting cycles. Scientists are also developing better robots that could potentially help in monitoring wildlife.