SERDP and ESTCP Webinar: Use of Environmental DNA to Monitor Population Parameters on DoD Lands

This SERDP and ESTCP webinar focuses on DoD-funded research efforts to enhance and expand the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) as a species conservation and management tool. Specifically, investigators will cover novel methods to detect rare species and address the limited inference from the detection or quantification of eDNA, as well as the expansion of eDNA usage as a conservation tool for monitoring species of concern in flowing waters on DoD lands.

Webinar #162 (10/6/2022) 

Use of Environmental DNA to Monitor Population Parameters on DoD Lands

Dr. Caren Goldberg, Washington State University
Dr. Jennifer Tank, University of Notre Dame

October 6, 2022

12:00 PM ET (9:00 AM PT)

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Abstracts 

“Dispersion, Detection, and Analysis of Environmental Genomic Materials for Understanding Populations” by Dr. Caren Goldberg ( SERDP Project RC19-1131)

This project addresses two major challenges to realizing the potential of environmental genomic data to contribute to species conservation and management, including limits on the detection of rare species and the limited inference available from the detection or quantification of eDNA. This presentation will cover the following methods used to address these obstacles: (1) field-based experiment processes used to investigate the dispersion of eDNA in wetlands; (2) the comparison of survey methods between continuous and point sampling, identifying and validating assays for environmental RNA targets indicating the presence of larvae, enabling inference of demographics (breeding versus non-breeding populations); and, (3) investigating DNA methylation patterns to further infer age structure. This presentation will also cover the limits of population estimation using nuclear eDNA from water samples.

“Predicting eDNA Dynamics in Flowing Waters Using Experimental, Field, and Modeling Approaches” by Dr. Jennifer Tank ( SERDP Project RC19-1276) 

This project aims to expand the use of eDNA as a conservation tool for monitoring species of concern in flowing waters on DoD lands by enhancing the interpretation of positive eDNA detection, given that once in the water column, eDNA is transported and simultaneously degrades in streams and rivers. This presentation will address approaches in using a combination of experiments, including controlled replicated recirculating streams; an outdoor experimental system with linked streams, ponds, and wetlands; and field verification in real-world scenarios on DoD lands. The presentation will also address the use of integrated experimental data with predictive models across a gradient of environmental complexity to understand eDNA particle degradation and movement in flowing waters, as well as refined techniques for eDNA sampling and detection. The overall objective of this research is to deliver tools and methods for efficient detection and quantification of target species and construct models to help understand detection in the context of flowing water ecosystems on DoD lands.

Speaker Biographies 

Caren Goldberg

Dr. Caren Goldberg is an associate professor in the school of the environment at Washington State University. She has been the principal investigator on a SERDP project to push the boundaries for using environmental genomic materials to understand populations of amphibians and other aquatic species. She has previously served as a co-principal investigator on an ESTCP-funded project to demonstrate eDNA detection methods for threatened and endangered species on DoD installations; this project was awarded Project of the Year for the ESTCP Resource Conservation and Resiliency program in 2017. She works with federal and state agencies, tribes, and non-governmental organizations across the western U.S. to address conservation genetic issues and use genetic tools to understand the distribution and connectivity of populations. Dr. Goldberg has authored or co-authored 74 peer-reviewed papers and 3 book chapters. She received a bachelor’s degree in integrative biology from the University of California, Berkeley, a master’s degree in wildlife and fisheries sciences from the University of Arizona, and a doctoral degree in fish and wildlife resources from the University of Idaho.

Jennifer Tank

Dr. Jennifer Tank is the Galla Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame and the director of the Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative. Her research explores how particles, carbon, and nutrients move through streams and rivers, with a focus on translation that informs management and policy of freshwaters. Dr. Tank has received multiple awards including the Environmental Stewardship Award from the Society for Freshwater Science (SFS) and the Ruth Patrick Award from the Association for Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO). She is also a Fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Dr. Tank has authored over 175 peer-reviewed papers and serves as an associate editor for Biogeochemistry and Limnology and Oceanography Letters. She served as the president of the Society of Freshwater Sciences and she is a current member of the Executive Board for the Council of Scientific Society Presidents. She also serves on the Water Science and Technology Board for the National Academies. Dr. Tank received a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Michigan State University and master’s and doctoral degrees in ecology from Virginia Tech.

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