Environmental DNA (eDNA) is residual DNA of an organism within an environment. This could be material shed or excreted from an individual and can be beneficial for detecting rare and cryptic species.
Monitoring populations traditionally required researchers to physically capture individuals, which can be time-intensive and costly. Recent advances in eDNA methods have allowed for rapidassessments of a species’ presence or absence, sometimes yielding higher detection probabilities than conventional sampling while remaining cost-effective and noninvasive.
How it works
- Water or soil samples are collected
- DNA is extracted from the samples
- DNA sample is replicated using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR)
- Primers are developed which target strands of DNA specific to the speciess you are looking for
- If those targeted strands are found in the sample, you know the targeted species was detected
We currently have several eDNA projects in progress, including using eDNA to detect invasive freshwater mussels, Salamander Mussels and their host the Mudpuppy, Dragonflies, glacial lake fishes (e.g., Banded Killifish and Starhead Topminnow), cryptic wetland birds, and the Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake.