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Biodegradable sensors are ready to transform autonomous ecological monitoring

Recent breakthroughs have led to the development of biodegradable sensors which, after collecting data, break down into byproducts that are harmless to their surroundings. Using these sensors to collect ecological data on vast scales and in fine resolution could transform our management and understanding of natural ecosystems.

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Fig. 1: Autonomous deployments of biodegradable sensors can deliver ecological data on larger scales, with further reach and with a lower environmental footprint than is currently possible.
Fig. 2: In the near, mid-term and long-term future, advancement of biodegradable sensor technology will open new avenues for collecting different types of ecological data.

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Acknowledgements

Thank you to Nuria Melisa Morales Garcia for her artistic contributions and to Amelia Holcomb for feedback on an early draft. We received support from the University of Cambridge’s Herchel Smith Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (S.S.S.), the Royal Society Wolfson Fellowship (M.K.), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (M.K.), and the Empa/Imperial College London Materials and Technology Center of Robotics (F.W. and M.K.).

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Correspondence to Sarab S. Sethi.

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Sethi, S.S., Kovac, M., Wiesemüller, F. et al. Biodegradable sensors are ready to transform autonomous ecological monitoring. Nat Ecol Evol 6, 1245–1247 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-022-01824-w

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