Project background, additional information, and contributing partners
Effective conservation and management of freshwater biota during an era of rapid climate change, nonnative species invasions, and habitat loss, as well as widespread efforts to maintain, restore, and expand the distributions of at-risk species, requires precise information about species distributions across broad areas to guide decision-making. Environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling of aquatic environments offers a reliable, cost-effective, and sensitive means of determining species presence if samples are collected following standardized field protocols (Carim et al. 2016a) and analyzed using rigorously designed eDNA assays (Wilcox et al. 2015a). Because of its advantages relative to traditional sampling techniques, eDNA sampling is being rapidly adopted to address questions about the distribution of species in headwater streams (McKelvey et al. 2016), the success of nonnative species removals, and the range-wide patterns of occupancy by individual species (Range-wide bull trout eDNA project). To foster these efforts, the National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation (NGC) and Boise Spatial Streams Group (BSSG) partners with dozens of natural resource organizations throughout North America to provide technical assistance in the form of eDNA assay development and field sampling designs for fish, amphibians, crustaceans, mussels, mammals, and birds. Samples are collected at thousands of sites annually through those partnerships, which has created a large database that is rapidly growing in geographic extent and species diversity. To facilitate access to this database in spatially-explicit formats that maximize the use and sharing of eDNA sampling results, as well as the efficient collection of new samples, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation commissioned the Aquatic eDNAtlas project and website.
Additional information on eDNA sampling and the eDNAtlas project is given below, along with our partner organizations.