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Hydrilla and Zebra Mussel eDNA Surveys

Using environmental DNA to detect non-native invasive species and introduce best management practices at an early stage

  • 10

    Lakes and Ponds Surveyed

  • Massachusetts, US

    Massachusetts, US

Our successful pilot study led to continued eDNA surveying to protect high-risk lakes and ponds from non-native, invasive species

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) prioritizes the detection of non-native hydrilla and zebra mussels in waterbodies for early detection, control, or eradication. Our team was engaged to conduct environmental DNA (eDNA) surveys to evaluate the presence of these species in high-risk lakes and ponds.

Detecting these species at initial introduction is imperative to prevent spread, but traditional survey techniques are expensive and can be ineffective at detecting species at low quantities. Testing for the presence of eDNA is a relatively new approach and involves sampling water to pick up traces of DNA without having to observe, handle, or capture the target species. Teaming with scientists at the University of Guelph and Precision Biomonitoring Incorporated (PBI), we developed and field-tested hydrilla and zebra mussel primers using physical local samples. During the pilot study, we were able to conclude that eDNA sampling is effective for determining the presence of zebra mussels and hydrilla.

Upon presenting our findings to the DCR, we were awarded a 3-year contract to conduct annual surveys to continue to monitor for both species in an expanded number of lakes and ponds. This allows us to provide accurate and timely information so that best management practices can be enacted to protect Massachusetts lakes and ponds.

At a Glance

  • Massachusetts Department of
  • Conservation & Recreation
  • University of Guelph
  • Precision Biomonitoring Inc.
Meet Our Team

Gabe Pelletier, Scientist

Using eDNA as a survey approach for invasive species detection allows clients to implement affordable management practices at critical stages.

Jake Riley, Senior Associate, Environmental Services

I am truly fortunate to have one of my passions—fish and fishing—be an integral part of my work in monitoring and protecting aquatic resources.
Jake Riley Senior Associate, Environmental Services Read More

Gabe Pelletier


Jake Riley

Senior Associate, Environmental Services

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