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Research Highlights

Individual Highlight

The eDNAtlas project: A national map of aquatic biodiversity

Photo of RMRS Research Ecologist Michael Schwartz collects eDNA samples from Rattlesnake Creek in Missoula, Montana. Photo credit Kellie CarimRMRS Research Ecologist Michael Schwartz collects eDNA samples from Rattlesnake Creek in Missoula, Montana. Photo credit Kellie CarimSnapshot : eDNA sampling provides a low-cost & sensitive method for determining which species occur in water bodies. Rapid adoption of eDNA sampling by many natural resource agencies led to an exponential increase in data and the need for an open-access database.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Nagel, David E. Isaak, Daniel J.
McKelvey, Kevin S. Young, Michael K.
Schwartz, Michael K.  
Research Location : National
Research Station : Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS)
Year : 2018
Highlight ID : 1520

Summary

Background Aquatic environmental DNA sampling is rapidly transforming our ability to describe and monitor biological communities. Adoption of this sampling technology has occurred broadly across many natural resource organizations in the United States, with samples being collected at thousands of sites each year. TheNational Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation pioneered development ofeDNA sampling of aquatic environments at their laboratory in Missoula, MT. The Center has partnered with dozens of National Forests, as well as other state, federal, tribal, and private natural resource organizations to assist in the collection and processing of eDNA samples. eDNA sampling provides a low-cost & sensitive method for determining which species occur in water bodies. Thousands of eDNA samples are collected annually and constitute a rapidly growing biodiversity archive.  Research To reduce redundancy and maximize data sharing among organizations, the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation commissioned theAquatic eDNAtlas Project. This project was designed to develop a comprehensive interagency database, sampling template maps, and a website to ensure standardization of data collections; while providing access to samples collected with the USDA Forest Service National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation. Data on the website are provided in flexible digital formats that enable efficient use for many purposes, which could include species status assessments, trend monitoring, distribution modeling, detection and tracking of nonnative species invasions, and assessments of habitat restoration efforts. The eDNAtlas project could potentially encompass all species throughout all aquatic habitats--rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, wetlands, and springs--in the U.S. where collaborating partners are interested in sampling. Key Findings The website and open-access database were launched in June 2018 with approximately 6,000 samples and is updated semi-annually with newly processed samples. eDNA sampling is rapid, reliable, and inexpensive compared to many traditional aquatic sampling techniques.A standardized field protocol enables consistent sampling of eDNA by different agencies or citizen scientists at unprecedented spatial extents and resolutions.The open-access eDNAtlas database provides a permanent digital archive of species occurrence information and facilitates data sharing and repurposing to accomplish  conservation and management goals

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Andy Dolloff, USFS, Southern Research Station
  • Keith Nislow, USFS, Northern Research Station
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (funding agency)