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AFS Standard Fish Sampling Techniques and Environmental DNA (eDNA) for Characterizing Fish Relative Abundance, Biomass, and Species Composition in Small Standing Waters (< 23 ha)

Duration

September 2013 - July 2018

Narrative

Recently, examination of deoxyribiose nucleic acids in water samples (environmental DNA or eDNA) has shown promise for identifying fish species present in water bodies. In water, eDNA is the result of bodily secretions such as mucus, gametes, and feces. We investigated whether eDNA can be effective for characterizing fish relative abundance, biomass, and species composition in small standing waters (<23 ha). We compared fish relative abundance, biomass, and species composition measured through eDNA methods and established American Fisheries Society (AFS) standard sampling methods in 12 small standing waters throughout southern Arizona. Our primary objective was to investigate the relationship between relative abundance, biomass, and catch composition of largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides and bluegill Lepomis macrochirus captured during electrofishing surveys and number of DNA copies of all fish species collected in water samples (surface and bottom water combined) from Arizona small standing waters. We found no relationship between relative abundance and biomass of Largemouth Bass and Bluegill measured by established methods and their DNA copies across the 12 waterbodies. Environmental DNA reflected the relative proportions of Largemouth Bass and Bluegill in total catch composition in some, but not all of 12 small Arizona waterbodies. The ease of eDNA sampling over established fish sampling makes it appealing to natural resource managers. Compared to current established fish sampling methods, eDNA sampling can be less laborious, less time consuming, and more cost effective. However, further refinement of eDNA techniques is necessary before the procedure can be used with confidence to evaluate fish species composition in small lakes. A thesis on this work was completed May 2016 and results are now being prepared for publication.

Research Products and Activities

Thesis

  • Perez, C. R. 2016. Relationship between American Fisheries Society standard fish sampling techniques and environmental DNA (eDNA) for characterizing fish presence, relative abundance, biomass and species composition in Arizona standing waters. Master's Thesis, University of Arizona, Tucson.

Presentations

  • Perez, C. R., S. A. Bonar, J. J. Amberg, C. Rees, W. T. Stewart, C. Gill, C. Cantrell. 2015. Correlation of eDNA (Environmental DNA) surveys with traditional fish sampling surveys in standing waters. The Joint Annual Meeting of the Arizona/New Mexico American Fisheries Society and the Wildlife Society, Las Cruces, New Mexico. February 5 – February 7, 2015. Contributed Oral Presentation.
  • Perez, C. R., S. A. Bonar, W. T. Stewart, C. Gill, and C. Cantrell. 2015. Comparison of length frequency, condition, and growth of select sport fish species in Arizona with those in other areas of North America. The Joint Annual Meeting of the Arizona/New Mexico American Fisheries Society and the Wildlife Society, Las Cruces, New Mexico. February 5 – February 7, 2015. Poster Presentation.
  • Perez C., S. A. Bonar, J. J. Amberg, C. Rees, B. Ladell, B. T. Stewart, C. Gill, and C. Cantrell. 2015. Standard Fish Sampling Techniques and Environmental DNA (eDNA) As Tools to Characterize Fish Presence and Relative Abundance in Arizona Standing Waters. 145th Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society, Portland, Oregon, August 16-20.
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Current Staff

Federal Staff: 2

Masters Students: 9

Phd Students: 1

Post Docs: 1

University Staff: 43

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 25

Scientific Publications: 57

Presentations: 95

 

Personnel

  • Scott BonarPrincipal Investigator
  • Christina PerezStudent

Funding Agencies

  • AZ Game and Fish

Links

Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Cooperators

  1. Arizona Game Fish Department
  2. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  3. U.S. Geological Survey
  4. University of Arizona
  5. Wildlife Management Institute