Use of environmental DNA (eDNA) in streams to detect feral swine (Sus scrofa)

Amberly N. Hauger, Karmen M. Hollis-Etter, Dwayne R. Etter, Gary J. Roloff, Andrew R. Mahon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Invasive feral swine can damage ecosystems, disrupt plant and animal populations, and transmit diseases. Monitoring of feral swine populations requires expensive and labor-intensive techniques such as aerial surveys, field surveys for sign, trail cameras, and verifying landowner reports. Environmental DNA (eDNA) provides an alternative method for locating feral swine. To aid in detection of this harmful invasive species, a novel assay was developed incorporating molecular methods. From August 2017 to April 2018, water samples and stream data were collected along 400 m transects in two different stream types where swine DNA was artificially introduced to investigate potential factors affecting detection. A generalized linear model (family binomial) was used to characterize environmental conditions affecting swine DNA detection; detection was the dependent variable and stream measurements included stream type, distance downstream, water temperature, velocity, turbidity, discharge, and pH as independent variables. Parameters from the generalized linear model were deemed significant if 95% confidence intervals did not overlap 0. Detection probability for swine DNA negatively related to water temperature (β = −0.21, 95% CI [−0.35 to −0.09]), with the highest detection probability (0.80) at 0 C and lowest detection probability (0.05) at 17.9 C water temperature. Results indicate that sampling for swine eDNA in free-flowing stream systems should occur at lower water temperatures to maximize detection probability. This study provides a foundation for further development of field and sampling techniques for utilizing eDNA as a viable alternative to monitoring a terrestrial invasive species in northern regions of the United States.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere8287
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • EDNA
  • Environmental DNA
  • Feral swine
  • Invasive species
  • Streams
  • Sus scrofa
  • Terrestrial mammal
  • Water samples
  • Water temperature


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