Skip to main content
Start of main content

Real-world Examples of Biological Monitoring with Environmental DNA (eDNA)

June 01, 2023

Current View

By Nathaniel Marshall, Jake Riley, Gabe Pelletier and Mary Murdoch

Stantec’s eDNA experts discuss environmental concerns in rights-of-way management at the 13th International Symposium

Infrastructure projects routinely include biological monitoring surveys for the assessment of rare, keystone, or invasive species to support permitting efforts. Characterizing biodiversity typically requires time-intensive surveys to physically capture organisms of interest, with field crews trained in morphological identification. However, recent genetic technical advancements through the analysis of environmental DNA (eDNA—genetic material released from an organism) has become a promising tool for biomonitoring purposes. This method provides detection of organisms without the need to capture or even see them within the environment, often exhibiting increased sensitivity compared to conventional methodology.

Although most progress has occurred for aquatic applications, advancements are focusing on terrestrial environments, including the collection of eDNA from air. While the breadth of eDNA research is promising, current uncertainties and drawbacks have impeded widespread regulatory acceptance of eDNA-based evidence to support permitting and project approvals. We discuss recent advancements for eDNA applications across environments and the path toward incorporating eDNA tools into linear infrastructure projects that require regulatory review. We will provide Stantec case studies and real-world examples for implementing eDNA methodology for biomonitoring surveys, and explore the development of guidelines/standards for eDNA applications to meet environmental mandates by federal and state government agencies.

  • Nathaniel Marshall

    Focused on the development and implementation of environmental DNA (eDNA), Nathaniel has worked on freshwater mussel conservation and the early detection of invasive species.

    Contact Nathaniel
  • Jake Riley

    Jake is a project manager and fisheries biologist. With his experience in endangered freshwater aquatic species and fish habitats, he has the scientific expertise to develop innovative solutions on all the projects he works on.

    Contact Jake
  • Gabe Pelletier

    Gabe is a project scientist conducting environmental surveys on energy and infrastructure projects including oil pipelines and wind and solar energy. His project experience includes environmental DNA study design and field sampling.

    Contact Gabe
  • Mary Murdoch

    Mary brings 21 years of environmental consulting experience and a focus on environmental assessment and aquatic environmental effects monitoring for industrial, commercial, institutional, municipal, and infrastructure clients.

    Contact Mary
End of main content
To top