Wednesday, December 21, 2016

New Study On DNA Based Detection of Brook Trout Streams

brook-troutResearch conducted by Paul Smith’s College biology professor Dr. Lee Ann Sporn and fisheries and wildlife science graduate Jacob Ball was part of a study published in the journal Transactions of the American Fisheries Society this December.

The study, “Efficacy of Environmental DNA to Detect and Quantify Brook Trout Populations in Headwater Streams of the Adirondack Mountains, New York,” focused on using environmental DNA, or eDNA, to determine if a fish species – in this case, brook trout – are present in a stream by using a single water sample.

In the 40 streams studied in the Adirondacks, the method predicted whether or not the fish were present with about 90 percent accuracy.

The study was a featured story in the journal and has received attention nationwide after determining eDNA to be an effective tool in monitoring aquatic habitats.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) carried out the fieldwork, which consisted of both extensive surveillance to determine if brook trout were present and collecting water samples. The water samples were then analyzed using the molecular biology facilities at the Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) laboratory by Sporn and Ball.

Work was funded by a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and made possible by the AWI.

The article, authored by Barry P. Baldigo, Sporn, Ball, and Scott D. George, was published by Taylor & Francis and can be read in full online.

Illustration: Brook Trout.

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7 Responses

  1. Keith Gorgas says:

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I find this an infinitely more interesting subject than the electoral college.

  2. Paul says:

    Not surprised that they can use this for detection. But for quantification – that is pretty amazing. Looks like they break it down by less than 100 fish per 0.1 hectare and then 100-300 then over 300. Interesting categories. Must have a lot to do with the sensitivity of the amplification they need to do.

    • Keith Gorgas says:

      After reading the whole paper, I think this is some very exciting research that could open many doors and make significant contributions to the study of wild trout as it develops further. Besides an obsession with finding and catching native Adirondack brook trout, I’ve been following the efforts to preserve and restore New England’s Coasters…. sea run brook trout. One can easily see that this field of research could become a very valuable tool to those active in that endeavor. I think this is a very significant development, and look forward to follow up articles.

  3. Bruce says:

    I’d be curious to know if they can detect what strain of Brook Trout are present. Each geographic region has been proven to have distinct strains native to that region, but early stocking efforts have blurred the lines.

    The Great Smoky Mountain National Park has determined there is a distinct strain of Brook Trout native to the SE Appalachians, has identified natural populations and taken steps to re-introduce them to other parts of their native range, above waterfalls high enough to keep out other species (5′ straight drop.) So far the program has met with great success, to the point of allowing catch and release fishing for those fishermen willing to get into where they are.

    • Paul says:

      If the have markers for different strains they should be able to do it right from the sequence data they have for the detection. Not sure if there are characterized genetic markers for different strains.

  4. Adam says:

    This is very cool… I’ve been fishing these headwaters streams for about a decade. Do you guys use volunteers to help? I’d be interested in contributing to brook trout studies in the ADK…

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