eDNA helps researchers track and identify endangered and at-risk species

In an attempt to gain greater insights into five at-risk species, researchers from the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) are working with the U.S. Department of Defense, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL), and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois to study endangered and threatened species in a new way.

This collaboration is testing the use of environmental DNA, or eDNA, to assess the status and distribution of the Calcasieu Painted crayfish, Kitsatchie Painted crayfish, Texas Pigtoe mussel, Louisiana Pinesnake, and the Alligator snapping turtle in Fort Polk, Louisiana.

“These are rare, hard to find species, and we are comparing the utility of conventional sampling and eDNA,” said, Mark Davis, a conservation biologist at INHS. “This work is important because eDNA might be faster, more efficient, and more cost effective than conventional sampling; now we will find out if it really is.”

Read about this eDNA project.