Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program:
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources


Characterizing Marine Faunal Community Composition Across the Gulf of California Using Next-Generation Sequencing of Environmental DNA

September 2016 - December 2018


Participating Agencies

Environmental DNA (eDNA) is showing promise as non-invasive method for identifying the presence and abundance of fish in the marine environment. Water sampling can yield eDNA from fish, mammals and birds that have recently come into contact with the water. For this project, we sampled 37 sites throughout the Gulf of California. These sites, ranging in depth from 5 meters to 35 meters were sampled in triplicate. At the same time conventional fish and invertebrate census data was collected and will be compared to the eDNA samples. Environmental DNA samples will be sequenced with high-throughput sequencing and analyzed bioinformatically to determine the amount of DNA signal for each taxonomic group present in the samples. This project aims to calibrate eDNA signal strength in an open ocean environment with presence/absence and abundance measures from conventional census data, determine the spatial limits of eDNA, and provide targeted monitoring of stocks of both ecologically significant marine species as well as those used commercially.