Presented March 26, 2015- Presentation Slides



Webinar Topics 

Environmental DNA: A New Tool for Species Inventory, Monitoring, and Management by Dr. Caren Goldberg

The objective of this project was to produce an efficient, broadly applicable set of protocols for the use of environmental DNA techniques for monitoring sensitive aquatic vertebrate species and their invasive threats at Department of Defense (DoD) installations. Detection of species using aquatic environmental DNA (eDNA - DNA found in water samples) is an emerging methodology. Environmental DNA techniques are highly sensitive and have the potential to improve accuracy of surveys for aquatic species while reducing costs and permitting requirements. We are using paired field and eDNA surveys to inform cost-efficient protocol development across a range of conditions and species on DoD installations. We have found that factors limiting detection of species vary across systems. Recommendations for eDNA sampling design include distributing samples spatially around larger wetlands, increasing volume sampled by using collection filters with appropriate pore size, and increasing numbers of samples at highly acidic wetlands. Protocols developed through this project will enable DoD personnel to determine how eDNA methods can supplement or replace current field protocols, collect high-quality eDNA samples, and choose a laboratory for sample analysis. 

Monitoring Species of Concern Using Noninvasive Genetic Sampling and Capture-Recapture Methods by Dr. Lisette Waits

This project supports DoD efforts to develop and implement more accurate and cost-effective monitoring methods for wildlife on military lands. Reliable monitoring is needed to demonstrate that federally listed species have been recovered and can be considered for downlisting, to inform future listing petitions, and to evaluate the impact of management actions for at-risk species. This project examines the use of noninvasive genetic sampling (NGS) of feces as a monitoring approach for detecting the presence of rare species, estimating population size, and evaluating other important indicators of population health including survival rates, genetic diversity, and population connectivity. NGS is an attractive and innovative alternative because collection of hair, feces, saliva, or feathers provides DNA material of free-ranging animals that can be used to identify species and individuals without having to catch, handle, or even observe them. To facilitate the use of this technology at DoD installations and demonstrate its transferability, we have implemented NGS monitoring programs for kit foxes (Vulpes macrotis) on Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, and Sonoran pronghorn (Antilocapara americana sonoriensis) on the Barry M. Goldwater Range in Arizona. This presentation gave an overview of the methodological approach and our current findings, and discussed the technical and economic benefits documented throughout the study period. 

Speaker Biographies

Caren Goldberg

Dr. Caren Goldberg is an Assistant Professor at Washington State University in Pullman, WA. Dr. Goldberg’s research focuses on the development and application of spatial and genetic tools to inform resource management through improved species detection and landscape modeling. Her work was the first to show that detection of vertebrates using aquatic environmental DNA (DNA found in water samples) in streams is possible. Since then, she has expanded the applications of this new method to a variety of species in the U.S. and internationally, including amphibians, fishes, reptiles, molluscs, and aquatic mammals. Since 2012, Dr. Goldberg has worked with Alex Fremier and Katherine Strickler on an ESTCP project to develop cost-efficient methods for detecting and monitoring vertebrates using environmental DNA. Dr. Goldberg has authored 35 peer-reviewed research papers, including 7 on aquatic environmental DNA applications. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Integrative Biology at the University of California at Berkeley in 1996, a master’s degree from the University of Arizona in 2002, and a doctoral degree from the University of Idaho in 2009.


Lisette Waits

Dr. Lisette Waits is a professor and department head in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences at the University of Idaho in Moscow, ID. Dr. Waits’ current areas of research focus on using molecular genetic methods to monitor wildlife populations, and evaluate genetic diversity, connectivity, and mating systems. Dr. Waits has served as the Principal Investigator of several research grants focused on developing new methods for monitoring wildlife populations using noninvasive genetic sampling of hair, feces, feathers, and saliva. She has published more than 160 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, the majority of which use noninvasive genetic sampling approaches. She earned a bachelor of science in genetics at the University of Georgia in 1991, and a doctoral degree in human genetics in 1996.