The Science of Sustainability

Collecting "Environmental DNA" (eDNA) in the Fight Against Invasive Species

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Environmental DNA Questions Answered



Environmental DNA or eDNA is a surveillance tool used by scientists at the University of Notre Dame in conjunction with the Nature Conservancy to determine whether silver carp and bighead carp are present in rivers, lakes and waterways.  Because there may only be a few of the carp in a large body of water, this process allows the scientists to determine the presence of these invasive species without positive visual identification.  Take a look at these links for more information.

Background & Risks of Asian Carp

This US Army Corps of Engineers page is a good place to get answers to questions about Asian carp. Find out why this species was imported to the United States, why the carp are a problem, and how you can help to keep them from spreading to other locations.

Asian Carp Control: The official website of the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee

Spend some time clicking around on this site—it’s a treasure trove of information.  You’ll find the schedule for the sampling locations and results from previous trips.  There is a handy list of all the state and federal agencies involved with the Asian carp project.  There’s even a poster to help you identify an Asian carp with instructions on what to do if you find one and much, much more.

Environmental DNA Research in the Center for Aquatic Conservation at the University of Notre Dame

This is the homepage of the eDNA research center QUEST Wisconsin visited for the story.  Find out about other research going on in the field, meet the scientists and see what they’ve published on the subject.

Environmental DNA Elicits Rapid Response, US Fish and Wildlife journal entry

Heather Calkins writes about her experience assisting the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by searching for silver carp after a positive “hit” of eDNA in Lake Calumet.

“Sight-unseen” detection of rare aquatic species using environmental DNA

Dig in deep with this scholarly letter written by the University of Notre Dame scientists in the forefront of eDNA research.  Christopher Jerde, Andrew Mahon, Lindsay Chatterton, and David Lodge discuss their detailed game plan for finding elusive Asian carp in the Chicago area waterways.

 eDNA Monitoring results

This US Army Corps of Engineer site links you to the results from specific eDNA sample collecting trips.  The Surveillance Status Map indicates where there was Asian carp eDNA found in each of the locations visited and whether it was silver or bighead carp.

For more information, view our Cool Critters: Lake Erie Water Snake video segment.

Share additional websites you’ve found helpful in the comment section.

Category: Biology, Environment

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Donna Crane

About the Author ()

Donna Crane is the Content Coordinator for the QUEST project at Wisconsin Public Television. Before coming to WPT, she worked at WMFE Public Television in Orlando, at CBS affiliate, WCAX-TV in Burlington, Vermont, at the University of Vermont, and at WSKG Public Television in Binghamton, NY. In her spare time you can find her snowshoeing in the winter and bike riding when it’s warm.