Influence of Stream Bottom Substrate on Retention and Transport of Vertebrate Environmental DNA

Christopher L. Jerde, Brett P. Olds, Arial J. Shogren, Elizabeth A. Andruszkiewicz, Andrew R. Mahon, Diogo Bolster, Jennifer L. Tank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


While environmental DNA (eDNA) is now being regularly used to detect rare and elusive species, detection in lotic environments comes with a caveat: The species being detected is likely some distance upstream from the point of sampling. Here, we conduct a series of seminatural stream experiments to test the sensitivity of new digital droplet PCR (ddPCR) to detect low concentrations of eDNA in a lotic system, measure the residence time of eDNA compared to a conservative tracer, and we model the transport of eDNA in this system. We found that while ddPCR improves our sensitivity of detection, the residence time and transport of eDNA does not follow the same dynamics as the conservative tracer and necessitates a more stochastic framework for modeling eDNA transport. There was no evidence for differences in the transport of eDNA due to substrate type. The relatively large amount of unexplained variability in eDNA transport reveals the need for uncovering mechanisms and processes by which eDNA is transported downstream leading to species detections, particularly when inferences are to be made in natural systems where eDNA is being used for conservation management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8770-8779
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 16 2016


Dive into the research topics of 'Influence of Stream Bottom Substrate on Retention and Transport of Vertebrate Environmental DNA'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this