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Journal of Freshwater Ecology

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eDNA, just another pretty face or new salvation? Application of eDNA surveys and analysis for freshwater resource management

Manuscript deadline
30 April 2024

Cover image - Journal of Freshwater Ecology

Article collection guest advisor(s)

Joseph Merz, Cramer Fish Sciences/ University of California

Gregg Schumer, Cramer Fish Sciences

Scott Blankenship, Cramer Fish Sciences

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eDNA, just another pretty face or new salvation? Application of eDNA surveys and analysis for freshwater resource management

Sampling and analysis of Environmental DNA (eDNA) is an emerging field for monitoring aquatic and semi-aquatic populations through detection of eDNA from water bodies to infer species presence. The field of eDNA is revolutionizing monitoring for rare, endangered, cryptic, and invasive species. The study of eDNA has given us unprecedented detail in the detection of single species and overall species diversity. eDNA analysis can use species specific qPCR to identify a single species or metabarcoding via next generation DNA sequencing to identify a subset of the taxa present.

eDNA sampling and analysis offers many advantages over classical methods as it has less dependency on water quality, sampling does not require physical handling of species, is adaptable to any habitat, relatively inexpensive to deploy, can be used year-round, and often does not require a collection permit. Even so, its direct application to resource management is in the developmental phase, requiring a structured approach to identify the success of available methods. Without a structured process, novel eDNA survey and analysis methodologies may remain in a developmental phase for a prolonged duration.

Given the absence of local, regional, national, and global standard operating procedures, the nature of eDNA surveys, subsequent analysis, and interpretation of results tend to be conducted at the user's discretion. This has led to a wide array of available sampling techniques and a variety of methods to interpret the resulting data. Such ambiguity in methodology has led to hesitance and slow acceptance amongst resource managers to utilize eDNA surveys as a sampling methodology.


In this special issue, we aim to disseminate new research that focuses on application of eDNA and cover diverse topics related to applied research using eDNA, its application in the management of rare and/or vulnerable species, and its application in the management of invasive species.

About the Guest Advisors

Dr. Joseph Merz has worked for educational, public, state, and federal entities as a fisheries scientist involved with stream restoration and studies to monitor fish populations. He has taught university courses on aquatic entomology, environmental studies, and freshwater ecology and teaches professional courses in salmonid ecology, habitat restoration, and fish passage. Joe has coauthored numerous peer-reviewed publications on river rehabilitation, including flow management as a restoration tool, gravel augmentation, fish movement, invasive species, woody debris/salmon redd associations, and determining species presence using eDNA.

Gregg Schumer is the Director of Lab Services for Genidaqs and a Senior Molecular Biologist for Cramer Fish Sciences in West Sacramento, CA. Gregg is responsible for directing laboratory projects, for all genetics projects throughout California, Oregon, and Washington. He leads the development of molecular based techniques for the detection and identification of cryptic aquatic species eDNA.

Dr. Blankenship has over 20 years of experience applying genetic data to population monitoring and fishery science. Scott has extensive technical experience combining the newest tools of molecular biology and genetics theory with field observations of fish populations and their habitat to create solutions for some of the most challenging issues in fishery management, hatchery operations, and population recovery.

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All manuscripts submitted to this Article Collection will undergo desk assessment and peer-review as part of our standard editorial process. Guest Advisors for this collection will not be involved in peer-reviewing manuscripts unless they are an existing member of the Editorial Board. Please review the journal Aims and Scope and author submission instructions prior to submitting a manuscript.