Searching for traces of Massasaugas

eDNA sampling equipment at a crayfish burrow at a historical location for Eastern Massasaugas

The Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake, a federally threatened species, is often difficult to detect. In addition to their incredible ability to camouflage with their surroundings, many of their historical populations have decreased to such low numbers that visual detection is nearly impossible.

PACE Lab graduate student Emily Sunnucks is using eDNA to help the search for this cryptic species. Massasaugas will use crayfish burrows as refuge. Sunnucks is collecting water samples from crayfish burrows at historical and currently verified locations to see if she can detect eDNA left behind by a massasauga.