- 1) Determine the amount and stochasticity of eDNA given off by bighead and silver carp of different sizes under different temperature, feeding, and densities.
- 2) Estimate amount of eDNA in sex products released and the degradation rate of the eDNA.
- 3) Develop a model to estimate eDNA concentrations under different environmental conditions and biomass or abundance of bigheaded carps.
Environmental DNA (eDNA) has promise as tool for detecting Asian carp. This is an environmental surveillance method in which DNA material from an organism that is released into the environment (water) through slime, skin cells, urine, or feces, and can be detected in a species-specific manner. The detection of the DNA material in water samples is currently being used as an early warning indicator for the presence of bigheaded carps in Michigan, Illinois, and portions of the Great Lakes to determine possible Asian carp presence. The eDNA technique uses Polymerase Chain Reaction technology to amplify specific rare DNA strands present in the environment to measureable concentrations. However, there are still questions on what a positive eDNA result means. For example, it is unclear if a positive eDNA detection means a live fish was actually in the vicinity, if the concentration of eDNA can be used to estimate relative abundance of Asian carp in the system, or how long the eDNA remains in the water before degradation. The study, which began in summer 2012, will help answer those questions and be used to better understand the results of eDNA analysis to more effectively determine response strategies to control or eradicate Asian carp.