Embarking on eDNA Research for the Flow H20 pilot

Author: Kyle Prince, Living Lakes Canada Program Coordinator

In late July, Living Lakes Canada (LLC) staff Raegan Mallinson and Kyle Prince were out collecting water samples at select sites of interest, attempting to capture Environmental DNA (eDNA) for a number of target species.

In partnership with the Flow H20 pilot project, LLC was tasked with leading the field component of the eDNA research project. The goals are to develop a greater understanding of eDNA applications, detection rates, applicability, while enhancing local conservation efforts by providing valuable target species spatial information. All animals slough off DNA through skin, mucus, feces, etc. into their immediate environment; these eDNA fragments can be captured by properly filtering a water sample which is then analyzed in a lab.  

The LLC crew of two travelled to three select areas near Nelson, B.C. collecting water samples in wetland, lake, river, and creek settings. Other general habitat and water quality data were also collected to increase site knowledge and understanding. After the field work, the samples needed to be filtered and preserved within 24 hours to prevent eDNA degradation. 

These samples have since been shipped to LLC’s project partners at the University of Victoria for analysis and reporting. Sample analysis will reveal detection or non-detection of the target species which will greatly increase data available at the important conservation sites. In some instances, these results will be used alongside existing conventional data.

“We’re very excited about working with LLC to introduce new environmental DNA methods to the Nelson area. From just a scoop of water, we can detect target species’ DNA with high sensitivity and specificity. This is easier on the field crew taking samples and gentler on target species’ habitat,” said Caren Helbing, Ph.D., professor with the Department of Biochemistry & Microbiology and Centre for Biomedical Research at University of Victoria.

Another round of sampling will occur this fall to develop a greater understanding of the sites, and the target species that potentially inhabit them. 

 

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