Optimizing eDNA Monitoring for Multiple AIS

Monitoring lakes for aquatic invasive species (AIS) is critical to prevent their spread, however, physically searching for many different AIS requires considerable expense. Environmental DNA (eDNA) could be an effective and inexpensive monitoring technique capable of detecting multiple AIS through water samples, but eDNA is a relatively new science, and optimal methods for its use as an AIS monitoring tool need to be developed before widespread application and acceptance.


1) Determine the effects of lake characteristics and sampling season on AIS detection probability, and to

2) optimize field and laboratory methods for maximizing detection probability of AIS from water samples. Researchers will validate and optimize eDNA methods for early detection of zebra mussel, spiny waterflea, rusty crayfish, and common carp. Researchers will develop protocols for sampling each species using eDNA, and provide recommendations for sampling multiple species simultaneously. The products will benefit resource managers, lake associations, researchers, and others.

Little information exists to guide the development of widespread, multi-species eDNA monitoring for AIS. Researchers will attempt to answer critical questions regarding the optimal amount of sampling effort, timing, sample location, as well as field and laboratory methods for detecting AIS across a range of lake types and AIS abundances. The results will guide the development of protocols and guidelines for widespread monitoring to establish statistically valid estimates of AIS prevalence, and for early detection efforts. The final product will make recommendations about which eDNA sample methods and strategies are optimal when detecting our target aquatic invasive species in Minnesota. This will give managers, AIS specialist, and non-government organizations guidance and confidence when using eDNA as a monitoring strategy.

Project manager: Joshua Dumke

Funded by: Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources

Project start date: Jan. 2021

Project end date: Dec. 2022