The Natural History Museum's pond and wildlife garden

Join the GenePools team to investigate the hidden and invisible life within garden or local community ponds, uncovering the true value and benefit of ponds for the environment.

GenePools is a partnership between Natural England, Cefas, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and the Natural History Museum. We invite you to work with us!

At a glance

Investigate hidden pond life.

Type of activity: Outdoor sampling of your pond and online survey.

Who can take part? Anyone who has permission and access to an enclosed pond in one of three cities:
Bristol, London and Newcastle.

When? Sign up from 23 November, return samples by 13 December 2021.

Where? Any enclosed pond that you have permission to sample. This might be your own pond, someone else's private pond or a community pond for which you can obtain permission.

How long will it take? Sampling will take about 15-20 minutes. Online forms, up to 20 minutes to fill in.

Why we are doing the project

Together we will investigate the fascinating life that dwells in ponds in urban areas using novel DNA sequencing methods, then dive deep into the data to explore how we can enhance biodiversity in ponds, for the benefit of both people and wildlife.

We are calling members of the community in Bristol, London and Newcastle to sample the water in their ponds and share the secrets that hide under their surface!

This is a pilot study, for which we seek 200 volunteers.

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‘Garden ponds are an important and unique part of the urban ecosystem, but scientists like me rarely have the opportunity to study them. I’m interested in how new technologies like sequencing the DNA in pond water can provide information about the functioning and health of aquatic habitats.’ 

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David Bass

Cefas, lead researcher in the GenePools team

How to take part

We have designed a simple, easy and straightforward method for you to extract the material we are interested to analyse.

1) To take part, please complete the sign-up form.

2) We will then send you all the kit you need to take part.

3) Follow the instructions to take your sample and return it to be analysed in the envelope we provide.

4) Finally, complete a short online survey to provide us with some background information on your pond to help us interpret the results.

Using your data

The personal data we collect from you will be held by Natural England and only used to contact you about this project. You can download our Privacy Notice (PDF 150KB)

Project resources

For a clearer understanding of how to sample your pond, you can download the instruction booklet (PDF 5.6MB).

Watch the video below for an overview of environmental DNA (eDNA) or read our article.


Watch the Museum's Identification and Advisory Officer, Florin Feneru, sample a pond using the GenePools kit.

Project team

Project partners

Natural History Museum logo
 Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment logo