Cooperative Research Units
Education, Research And Technical Assistance For Managing Our Natural Resources
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Phase II: Monitoring the endangered Tidewater Goby using environmental DNA in water samples: Field tests


August 2014 - June 2019


This project proposes to assess the potential of using environmental DNA in water samples as a tool for monitoring the endangered Tidewater Goby in lagoon and bay habitats. Environmental DNA is a cost-effective and noninvasive technique that has been successfully applied to a broad range of taxonomic groups, including fishes. Studies show that environmental DNA can closely track presence/absence and can be useful for monitoring species that cannot be detected using conventional field approaches. Despite apparent promise, insufficient testing has been conducted to determine the suitability of environmental DNA (eDNA) approaches for monitoring Tidewater Goby. This project has two major phases: 1. develop and test eDNA techniques, and 2. apply eDNA techniques for presence/absence detection in natural settings. This proposal is for the second phase. During this second phase, Humboldt State University and USFWS will collaborate to survey 15 water bodies in northern California to 1. employ traditional field surveys techniques for Tidewater Goby, 2. collect 1-5 water samples from each site and test water samples for tidewater presence/absence of Tidewater Goby DNA, and 3. evaluate suitability of QPCR for determining the presence/absence and/or relative abundance of Tidewater Goby.


Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 240

Phd Students: 142

Post Docs: 52

University Staff: 242

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 702

Scientific Publications: 1951

Presentations: 4266



  • Margaret WilzbachCo-Principal Investigator
  • Molly SchmelzleStudent
  • Chad MartelStudent
  • Mark HendersonCo-Principal Investigator

Funding Agencies

  • U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey