Seminar: Dr. Alison W. Watts (Research Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New Hampshire)
Title: Using DNA Methods to Monitor Invasive Species and Biodiversity in Estuarine Systems
Speaker: Dr. Alison W. Watts (Assistant Research Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New Hampshire)
Abstract: Environmental DNA (eDNA), or DNA present in an environmental sample, is emerging as a powerful tool to detect species present in an ecosystem without having to actually capture and identify individual organisms. Fish, invertebrates, and other animals shed DNA through fragments of tissue, reproductive and waste products into the environment they live in. High throughput sequencing of DNA extracted from environmental samples can identify hundreds of plant and animal species at relatively low cost. These methods have the potential to transform monitoring and management of coastal systems, but we are really only beginning to understand how to effectively apply the technology to achieve useful, reproducible results. This talk will focus on emerging eDNA methods for coastal and estuarine monitoring, including potential management applications, examples of relevant research, and development of standardized methods. I will present examples from a pilot environmental eDNA monitoring program being implemented at several National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) sites in New England and Oregon, where metabarcoding and single-species PCR methods are applied to species detection with a focus on fish and crabs. Sampling is being conducted in coordination with traditional monitoring programs including seine surveys, fish ladder counts, crab trapping and plankton tows to allow direct comparison to traditional methods."