Environmental DNA Mapping of Zebra Mussel Populations

Author: Jon J. Amberg and Christopher M. Merkes, U.S. Geological Survey
Year: 2016
Digital Object Identifier:

Type: Report
Topic: Monitoring/ Sampling



Environmental DNA (eDNA) has become a popular tool for detecting aquatic invasive species, but advancements have made it possible to potentially answer other questions like reproduction, movement, and abundance of the targeted organism. In this study we developed a Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) eDNA protocol. We then determined if this assay could be used to help determine Zebra Mussel biomass in a lake with a well-established population of Zebra Mussels and a lake with an emerging population of mussels. Our eDNA assay detected DNA of Zebra Mussels but not DNA from more than 20 other species of fish and mussels, many commonly found in Minnesota waters. Our assay did not predict biomass. We did find that DNA from Zebra Mussels accumulated in softer substrates in both lakes, even though the mussels were predominately on the harder substrates. Therefore, we concluded that eDNA may be useful to detect the presence of Zebra Mussels in these lakes but our assay/approach could not predict biomass.

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