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Similarly to Wells, Florida’s Apalachicola Reserve is investigating the comparison of eDNA to previous years of plankton tow data which requires manual processing. Apalachicola’s data comes from moving, rather than stationary tows. Comparisons of eDNA data with manual processing will allow the team to identify whether or not there are species which are not being identified through manual processing techniques.

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Great Bay Reserve in New Hampshire is investigating the utility of eDNA to supplement our understanding of fish populations and diversity in the estuary as well as general biodiversity. One way to quantify this approach is to sample eDNA in tandem with traditional monitoring methods like seining. The Reserve is using eDNA to study fish and general diversity across long-term seining sites across the bay, as well as long-term water quality stations within and around the bay, both which have been monitored by the Reserve and its state partner (NHFG) for decades. In addition, Reserve staff will be monitoring for fish and general diversity in Great Bay’s three ubiquitous habitats (mudflats, seagrass beds, and oyster reefs) to establish a baseline and understand potential differences in ecosystem function. eDNA sampling at our long-term water quality stations, which are part of a national network (System-Wide Monitoring Program; SWMP), will be amplified through multiple participating Reserves across the country. This coordination will help study the potential value of pairing eDNA with the NERR’s well-established SWMP monitoring.

eDNA vs. Seine data at Great Bay

Sample Variance at Great Bay

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He‘eia Reserve in Hawai‘i is using eDNA to look at a handful of key species of interest including an endemic freshwater goby, Hawaiian anchovy, and mullet, which are important food fish in the ancient Hawaiian fishpond. We are interested in using eDNA to determine spatial distributions of the goby, which migrate from stream mouth regions, and up waterfalls to freshwater ponds. We are also interested in learning more about the spatial distributions of competing native and non-native species of mullet and relate them to environmental characteristics and subsequent diet sources. In general, He‘eia NERR is also interested in examining the overall biodiversity of cryptic species in the estuary, such as microinvertebrates, phytoplankton and ciliates, and others.

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Hudson River is focusing their eDNA research on American eel. They are attempting to do eDNA sampling in conjunction with a citizen science project focused on distribution of eel in a particular tributary. This tributary has two dams which are currently funded for removal. Implementing eDNA sampling now will hopefully allow the Reserve to study the effectiveness of eDNA sampling at measuring changes in the ecosystem pre- and post-dam removal, and measuring whether the dam removal has been successful at expanding fish habitat.

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South Slough Reserve in Oregon is studying what information eDNA can provide about species richness, as well as how the tidal regime affects eDNA sampling. Like Great Bay, they are using eDNA to study fish community diversity. The Reserve is also attempting to use eDNA to study spatial distribution of lamprey. Using fin clips and other methods, South Slough Reserve is creating a more thorough DNA sequence database of species of interest in the Pacific Northwest.

Biodiversity metrics at South Slough

Oregon lamprey data

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The eDNA research at Wells Reserve in Maine focuses on the larval plankton tows which have taken place there for over a decade. Traditionally, larval fish identification has been performed through taxonomic methods. The eDNA research at Wells attempts to develop protocols for eDNA co-sampling with stationary larval tows, and to study if eDNA can provide comparative – or complimentary – data to taxonomic identification at lower resource cost. Wells is also performing a series of lab experiments to study eDNA detection of green crabs.

eDNA vs. Larval Fish results at Wells