Looking to determine which sites need priority conservation?
The analysis of environmental samples for a species DNA (eDNA) is a newer technology that promises greater sensitivity than traditional survey methods when detecting aquatic species. The northern leatherside chub (Lepidomeda copei) is a minnow that can be found in southeast Idaho where we work for a variety of clients.
The species has a patchy distribution, meaning populations may only inhabit a short reach of stream and be separated by great distances from the next nearest population. The species can easily be missed using traditional electrofishing and is a good candidate for the use of eDNA. We worked with a client and the US Forest Service to develop a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay to detect northern leatherside chub DNA. We then designed and conducted field experiments to determine how well we could detect the species in its native streams.
Using data from the experiments, we conducted a large-scale sampling. We collected samples from 84 locations and found northern leatherside DNA at only four. The results confirmed that the species is sparsely distributed and helped identify which streams are of primary concern for conservation of the species.
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