DNA InsectScan for living walls

Mobilane and SGS Search have joined forces to bring you DNA InsectScan for living walls: a new, unique and innovative method to measure the effectiveness of living walls for biodiversity.

Monitoring insects through DNA

An effective ecology strategy for the area surrounding our buildings can enhance the diversity of flowering and other plants, supporting a more diverse insect population as a direct outcome. Even so, due to their small size, arthropods such as insects are among the most difficult organisms to detect and monitor, despite being the most numerically abundant taxonomic group on Earth. Monitoring the insect species in a given area and charting the overall biodiversity often proves to be an effective way to track your success in promoting the pivotal ecosystem services that these species provide. Due to its sampling simplicity, low processing time, accuracy and sensitivity, DNA InsectScan for living walls by SGS Search is an innovative and useful tool to keep track of biodiversity changes. Unlike traditional biodiversity surveys, DNA InsectScan uses insect environmental DNA (eDNA) to assess insect communities.

Why does biodiversity matter?

Insect populations are falling at an alarming rate, with several studies reporting losses of 40%. This has left us in an extremely critical situation, as insects are vital for the functioning of ecosystems: without them, humanity is in serious trouble. Insects pollinate flowers and plants, which makes them vitally important to the continued existence of the flora all around us. They also serve as a food source for other animals, like birds, fish, and spiders. If insects were to vanish from the planet, humanity would be left without plants — and as a direct result, without food.



How does it work?

Environmental DNA (E-DNA) is the genetic material released by an organism into the environment. This can come from numerous sources, including skin and hair being shed, body secretions, feces, seeds, and pollen. By deploying molecular techniques, E-DNA can be captured, amplified, and/or sequenced to identify the recent presence, relative abundance, and/or distribution of a given species, or entire communities. ​

Mobilane website InText image Biodiversity lab InsectenScan 2

Samples for E-DNA analysis can come from anywhere, but for InsectScan, we focus on vegetation samples. We ask our clients to send us leaves, flowers, and branches from the living wall after pruning, so we can determine which insect species were present in that area. The technique is non-invasive and highly sensitive, allowing for the detection of almost all insect species, including those that are very small or difficult to identify visually. ​

E-DNA has revolutionized our ability to analyze biodiversity at a fraction of the time it takes to conduct conventional ecological monitoring.

Why DNA InsectScan for living walls?

We know that plants and soil in living walls contribute to biodiversity. But exactly how much of a positive effect do green facades have on insects? With Mobilane’s DNA InsectScan for living walls, it is now possible to quantify the positive effect of living walls on biodiversity in numbers. InsectScan offers a unique way to easily measure biodiversity using scientific methods. The data generated as a result are transparent and can be used in annual reports and sustainability reports for internal users and stakeholders.

DNA InsectScan for living walls can also help you meet the requirements for sustainability certificates, such as BREEAM.

A living wall for application of the DNA InsectScan


More about biodiversity in green facades

Green facades can contribute to biodiversity in various ways. The different types of plants, each with their own flowering season, attract birds as well as various insects, such as bees and butterflies. A green external wall not only serves as food, but also provides breeding and nesting opportunities. Birds can nest in the system, but nest boxes and/or insect hotels can also be incorporated as a helping hand.


Modular living wall system for climate-proof construction

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DNA Insect Scan

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Exclusive partnership between Mobilane and SGS Search

SGS Search is an international engineering firm, consultancy firm, laboratory, and training institute specializing in the built environment, and how to make that environment more sustainable. Inspired by the environment, SGS Search endeavors to create a sustainable future — a mission shared by Mobilane. With InsectScan, our clients can now monitor and verify exactly how much richer the variety of insect species is getting. In doing so, we are delivering an even greater contribution to a green world for future generations. As a result, here at Mobilane, we are extremely excited that we have been able to partner with SGS Search to deliver InsectScan to our clients.

* Sources:
Hallmann CA, Sorg M, Jongejans E, Siepel H, Hofland N, Schwan H, et al. (2017) More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas.
Anders Pape Møller (2019) Parallel declines in abundance of insects and insectivorous birds in Denmark over 22 years.
Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, Kris A.G. Wyckhuys (2019). Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers.