Skip to main content
Start of main content

Environmental DNA (eDNA) Detection for Endangered Freshwater Mussels

Evaluating eDNA survey capabilities to improve Environmental Standards Act consultation associated with permitting bridge projects

  • 4

    Protected Species

  • 6

    Bridges in 2.5 Days

  • 108

    eDNA Samples

  • Tallahassee, Florida

    Tallahassee, Florida

More efficient than visual surveys, eDNA surveys can reduce overall project costs

In Florida, the Choctawhatchee River is a special place where four endangered species of freshwater mussels make their homes, with two species found only in this river. The Office of Environmental Management (OEM) of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) contracted us to develop and implement an environmental DNA (eDNA) pilot study to facilitate detection—the presence or probable absence—of freshwater mussels.

This study compares the efficiency of eDNA to visual surveys in addressing Environmental Standards Act (ESA) consultations for permitting requirements. The comparison study also extends to efficiencies in providing mussel assemblage data, reducing overall costs of projects, expediting timeframes for project delivery, and reducing safety concerns. In addition, the eDNA survey may be completed with less effort, averaging 6.67 person hours, compared to 15.5 person hours for the visual surveys, and can be completed with a smaller field crew in safer conditions. Other advantages of eDNA surveys include providing comparable information to a visual qualitative survey, implementation in environments that challenge tactile surveys, and completion without a federal mussel permit holder.

Our eDNA survey within the Choctawhatchee River basin successfully detected the four federally protected mussel species observed with visual surveys—confirming their presence with less effort.

Meet Our Team

Cody Fleece, Principal, Aquatic Ecologist

I love finding novel solutions to difficult problems.

Nathaniel Marshall, Environmental Scientist

I strive to implement novel environmental DNA approaches to provide science-driven solutions for a wide range of clients and project goals.
Nathaniel Marshall Environmental Scientist Read More

Cody Fleece

Principal, Aquatic Ecologist

Nathaniel Marshall

Environmental Scientist

We’re better together

  • Become a client

    Partner with us today to change how tomorrow looks. You’re exactly what’s needed to help us make it happen in your community.

  • Design your career

    Work with passionate people who are experts in their field. Our teams love what they do and are driven by how their work makes an impact on the communities they serve.

End of main content
To top