Environmental DNA (eDNA) is an emerging tool for monitoring present biodiversity. It uses gene sequencing linked to DNA/RNA barcode libraries to allow for faster, more complete profile of biodiversity content from very small samples. Internationally, countries like Australia, the EU and Scotland are exploring working with eDNA. This is a made-in-Canada technology and now has the opportunity to move beyond proof of concept to demonstrating the possible. This will make benthic invertebrate analysis faster, more accurate and more affordable for community groups water quality monitoring initiatives.
STREAM (Sequencing the Rivers for Environmental Assessment and Monitoring) DNA, is a new community-based project which involves the collection of eDNA from rivers across Canada. STREAM is a collaboration between Living Lakes Canada (LLC) World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and the University of Guelph. The project will work with interested partners including community and water stewardship groups, academia, Indigenous communities, all levels of government and industry to collect data for stream health assessments.
This project will use an updated version of the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) protocol, developed by ECCC to collect eDNA samples using biomonitoring of benthic invertebrates, or the small animals on the bottom of the stream. Benthic invertebrates are strong indicators of water quality since the small organisms included in that group are highly sensitive to pollutants and other changes that impact aquatic ecosystem health.
The University of Guelph received a $2.6 million grant from Genome Canada to support eDNA sample analysis for communities for 3 years. The goal is to collect 1500 samples from 15 nationally distributed watersheds over 3 years (5 watersheds/year) with community-based water monitoring (CBWM). Participants will learn and build skills for stream health assessments, open sourced data inputs and access while using new, more cost-effective technology. Following the announcement earlier this year, the STREAM project will focus on 5 priority watersheds for Year 1 including the Columbia, Skeena, Liard in British Columbia, the Bow Valley in Alberta and Sudbury in Ontario.
Living Lakes Canada will train and certify interested organizations using an adapted CABIN protocol to include eDNA analysis. Living Lakes Canada and partners will assist interested organizations in their first year of sampling, offering knowledge in site selection and monitoring. The organizations will then commit to maintaining the project in later years, uploading results to the CABIN database and commit to sharing data in open platforms.
LLC will be holding a Program Manager/Field Technician Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) & eDNA Training course in:
- Nelson, BC June 12 & 13, 2019
- Smithers, BC June – TBD
- Canmore, AB July 16 & 17, 2019
- Sudbury, ON – TBD
For more information on costs and online module information and registration please visit the Canadian Rivers Institute.
For questions, please email Raegan Mallinson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Past Field Seasons
The 2018 field season, LLC was in the Liard, BC watershed in Northern B.C. (Canada’s ninth largest watershed) working in partnership with the Lower Post Guardians to establish a biomonitoring program and host a two-day Program Manager/Field Tech CABIN field practicum.
There was also a training in the Skeena watershed, Smithers, BC for a Field Assistant level CABIN practicum in partnership with the Environmental Stewardship Initiative of BC.
The 2017 Field Season included:
Sunshine Coast Biomonitoring and eDNA Pilot Project
Central Ottawa Biomonitoring and eDNA Pilot Project.