What is Citizen Science?
Our Citizen Science service makes use of DNA barcoding. This is a technique used to amplify a specific gene, then comparing the obtained sequenced to a database so that the species may be identified.
Here at chXout we have developed this service to cover the species identification of all plants, animals and fungi!
We may even work from “dead” specimens (e.g. bones)! However, please contact us prior so that we may inform you on suitable sample submissions.
Over the past century bumblebees have been in great decline. Two species became extinct in the UK during the 20th century: Cullum’s bumblebee (Bombus cullumanus) and the Short-haired bumblebee (Bombus subterraneaus). Due to the large-scale declines in bumblebee distribution, a further eight species are currently listed on at least one of the English, Welsh and Scottish conservation priority species lists.
There are 24 species of bumblebee found in the UK, 25 including the Short-haired bumblebee which was reintroduced in 2009.
The Great Yellow bumblebee (Bombus distinguendus) is one of the rarest British bumblebees. This bumblebee was once widespread across the UK, now it is restricted to parts of the Hebrides, the north coast of Scotland and the Orkney Islands. The main factor associated with their restriction appears to be the loss of foodplants at key times of the year, this being linked to increasingly intensive management of grasslands.
The decline of bumblebees are jeopardising the essential ecosystem service of plant pollination that they provide, playing a key role in producing much of the food we eat.
Survey the UK’s bumblebees and help with their conservation with us! Bumblebees can be seen from as early as February until late autumn, so if you find a bee in your garden or out and about, pop it into one of our sample submission bags and we can determine the species for you.
Why choose chXout?
Our kit provides a quick, intuitive and easy means to identify any species that may peak your interest. Where did those seeds come from? What species is this plant in the garden? Or perhaps you are on a woodland forage and wish to identify a fungus you have discovered, we are here to help!
You may have an animal specimen, a pond creature, a wasp or bee. Whether flora or fauna, we are here for your species identification needs.
Our Citizen Science Service
Citizen Science Sample Submissions
Plants come in a huge range of wonderful shapes, sizes and colours.
To ensure a successful sample collection for DNA barcoding we highly recommend providing us with small, young leaves from near the shoot tips.
If this is not possible, please provide us with root or stem. Please wash root or stem samples in water to remove soil and any other contaminants.
Please by all means try to avoid sending in dry, dead plant material.
Vertebrates are animals that possess a back bone, this classification covers birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals.
Your citizen science sample for vertebrates can come in many forms. We would recommend sending in tissue samples for DNA barcoding.
Examples include: scales for fish, plucked feathers for birds, and plucked fur for mammals.
Alternatively you may send in a blood sample (collected with a swab), or a faecal sample.
Invertebrates are animals that are characterised by their lack of a back bone, these include arthropods (e.g. insects), molluscs (e.g. squids), annelids (e.g. earthworms) and cnidarians (e.g. jellyfish).
You may send in tissue samples for invertebrate DNA barcoding. These can include the whole carcass of small arthropods, or simply a leg.
Seperate from the kingdoms of plants and animals is that of fungi, a group typically known for containing a multitude of mushroom species but also covers moulds and yeasts.
Fungi come in all shapes and sizes, so it can seem difficult to send in samples for citizen science.
Suitable fungi samples include fresh caps or stems.
Although most species are harmless, some are known to be harmful to human health. For personal protection please wear gloves when collecting your fungi sample.
Please do not kill or seriously harm any animal, plant or fungus when collecting your samples for the Citizen Science kit. It is important to treat the organisms we test with respect.
Can you Identify Breeds?
Using DNA barcoding we can effectively identify genetic differences between species. However, this technique does not have the capability to differentiate between intra-species genetic differences, such as between breeds or cultivars for example.