Applications of eDNA Technology

Surveillance of invasive species


Eradication assessment


Identification and monitoring of endangered species


Biodiversity monitoring following barrier construction/removal


Analysis of biodiversity


Aquaculture or ecosystem health monitoring


Pathway surveillance organisms in trade


Environmental impact and risk assessments






Surveillance of invasive species

eDNA technology can help identify and track invasive species in an aquatic system through single project presence/absence studies, long-term surveillance of areas threatened by invasion, and the determination of the spatial extent of a species range (delimitation studies).
Traditional surveillance tools such as nets or electrofishing have difficulty detecting species in low abundance, prohibiting early detection.  Rather than increasing the sampling effort, we use a more specific technology, enabling the early detection and rapid management of invasive species.

Eradication assessment

Environmental DNA technology detects the presence or absence of species, allowing eradication efforts to be assessed accurately, quickly, and cost-effectively.

Identification and monitoring of endangered species

By using a tool that relies on environmental cues rather than the sighting of a specimen, eDNA technology provides a non- invasive, non-disruptive method for demonstrating the presence or absence of an endangered species.  This technique can be used to assess the efficacy of reintroduction programs or in environmental impact assessments.

Biodiversity monitoring following barrier construction/removal

Environmental DNA surveillance can be used to track the biodiversity effects of management techniques such as barrier removal or construction.  By determining a baseline of species present, samples can be taken over time to analyze the recolonization of fishes after barrier removal or fish ladder construction.  Conversely, the absence of fish after the construction of a barrier can also be noted, useful in testing the efficacy of barriers against invasive species.

Analysis of biodiversity

Water samples can be used for the detection of multiple species, allowing for the species composition of an area to be determined within the confines of available markers.

Aquaculture or ecosystem health monitoring 

The presence of deadly pathogens can be detected in populations, enabling the rapid treatment and management of diseases. Viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), for example, can be detected without the need of catching an infected specimen, allowing fisheries to be stocked only with healthy fish and enabling the rapid determination for containment need.

Pathway surveillance: organisms in trade  

Environmental DNA technology can be used to distinguish between desired bait species and undesired juvenile forms of invasive species that often find their way into the bait trade due to their similar appearances.  Similarly, organisms in fish markets and pet shops can be monitored to prevent the sale and potential release of unwanted or harmful species.  

Where likely releases of organisms in trade have taken place, eDNA technology can be used to determine whether organisms have survived their release.

Environmental impact and risk assessments

Environmental DNA technology can be used in environmental impact assessments to certify the presence/absence of a target species.  Areas can be certified to be free of rare, threatened or endangered species prior to construction or development.  Power and water plants can easily test for the absence of zebra and quagga mussels before site determination.

 

 

 

 

 

 





Credits: IN-DNR photos by Frank Oliver