We use non-evasive approaches to testing for species presence
How do you test for federally-listed species in an undeveloped, 3,000-acre (1,214-hectare) tract of forest and old logging roads? When you’re looking for something like Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar), you can use environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling. Testing for the presence of target species’ eDNA is a relatively new scientific method that detects small traces of DNA in water samples in the field without having to directly collect, handle, or observe the target organisms or disturb habitat in the environment.
In consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Professor Michael T. Kinnison at the University of Maine, we prepared a study plan for the site’s eDNA survey, and in 2018 on behalf of the Maine Army National Guard (MEARNG) we sampled the site. The sample areas at the Woodville Training Site in South Woodville, Maine, included three tributaries of Medunkeunk Stream that run the length of the project site.
eDNA methods can be used to either complement conventional survey methods (for example electrofishing or netting) or to replace conventional methods when the physical capture of rare species is prohibited or prohibitive. Compared to conventional survey approaches, eDNA sampling and analysis in the field provides a rapid and safe method of detecting species presence with low potential to harm the target.
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