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

California Project

Standardizing Environmental DNA methodologies for Coho Salmon

January 2020 - December 2023


Participating Agencies

  • California Department of Transportation

This research is designed to provide guidance for the application of environmental DNA (eDNA) approaches for monitoring the presence, distribution, and abundance of Coho Salmon. While eDNA has the potential to revolutionize our ability to detect fish and to conduct monitoring in larger areas with higher efficiency and lower cost, it is not generally applied in standardized survey protocols developed by federal and state regulatory agencies. The initial steps involve conducting a series of laboratory and field experiments to study the ecological dynamics of eDNA, such as production, decay, and transit rates. Using the information from these initial experiments, a predictive statistical model will be developed and applied for estimating local- and broad-scale species distribution and abundance in river networks using eDNA. We are partnering with the California Department of Transportation and Humboldt State University for this project. Federal and state resource management and conservation groups will benefit from the development of eDNA approaches that allow efficient and high accuracy predictions of species geographic distribution at local- and broader scales that are not achievable using currently applied field approaches. Development of eDNA distribution and monitoring methodologies will enable efficient, no-take approaches to establish environmental baseline conditions at culvert and bridge project sites, evaluate mitigation for project impacts, and demonstrate the efficacy of mitigation projects in aquatic habitats and at fish passage remediation project locations.