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INHS Seminar | Using experimental and field approaches to identify drivers of eDNA transport and removal in streams

Event Type
Illinois Natural History Survey
1005 Forbes Natural History Building, 1816 S Oak Street, Champaign
Apr 26, 2024   11:00 am  
Elise Snyder, PhD Candidate, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame
Dr. Mark Davis
Originating Calendar
INHS Events

This seminar will be held in room 1005 Forbes Natural History Building, 1816 S Oak Street, Champaign or you may join virtually on Zoom. Meeting ID: 853 3793 8577 | Password: 601675

Flowing waters have unique physical attributes and biological processes that impact the fate and transport of particles. My research combines stream ecology, molecular ecology, hydrology, and mathematical modeling to explore how environmental DNA (eDNA) is transported in fluvial ecosystems. eDNA is comprised of genetic material shed by organisms that is detectable in water, soil, air, or other media. By leveraging eDNA analysis in aquatic systems, we can gain insights into the distribution of invasive or rare species, aiding in biodiversity assessments. To date, much of the foundational eDNA work has been conducted in lentic systems (e.g., ponds and lakes), while the dynamics of eDNA transport and removal in lotic waters (e.g. streams and rivers) are understudied. My dissertation investigates how eDNA characteristics and environmental factors interact to determine the fate of eDNA in flowing waters. Using experimental eDNA additions across recirculating mesocosms, experimental streams, and natural systems, I explored whether eDNA particles of distinct sizes are differentially transported under varying environmental conditions, including light, benthic substrate/biofilm conditions, and warming temperatures. I found that oftentimes large eDNA particles settle out of the water column faster than small particles, leading to changes in the makeup of an eDNA sample with distance from the source, although this dynamic is dependent on environmental context. These results suggest that spatiotemporal changes in the distribution of eDNA size classes (e.g., with downstream transport) could be used to predict the location of target organisms in flowing waters. Ultimately this work expands our understanding of eDNA transport in streams and rivers and advances the use of eDNA as a tool for science, management, and monitoring in these systems.

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