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

Wisconsin Fishery Project

Development of point-of-use invasive species eDNA screening approaches

September 2022 - September 2024


Participating Agencies


Invasive species are ecologically damaging, economically costly, and increasingly prevalent throughout the world. Eradicating invasive species is notoriously difficult; therefore, preventing their introduction is critical to control their spread. Many invasive species originate via trade and commerce, such as through the ballast water of shipping vessels or through the food trade. Enabling invasive species surveillance at discrete points of entry is a promising avenue to detecting and preventing new invasions before they begin. Environmental (e)DNA provides a means of detecting species through their shed DNA that may be present in water, on various substrates, or in the air. Recently developed techniques have shown promise for point-of-use eDNA-based monitoring; however, these methods generally require sample processing techniques that are not feasible in most non-laboratory settings. Through this research project, we will improve the ease-of-use for these emerging eDNA screening approaches for invasive species monitoring using a two-step research process. First, we will perform a thorough literature review across diverse fields to identify alternative approaches that will streamline the method’s implementation. Secondly, we will work with end-user stakeholders to develop and validate newly developed techniques. With goals directed toward end-user ease-of-use, frequent communication with our research stakeholders throughout the lifespan of the project will be critical to its success. To that end, port and customs agency personnel will be engaged to share research plans and findings at various phases of the project, including during study design, following collection of initial results, and upon completion of the project. In addition to the newly developed methods this research will establish, deliverables will include presentations at professional conferences such as the North American Invasive Species Management Association’s annual meeting and publications in at least two peer-reviewed manuscripts that will focus on the literature review and the developed eDNA detection protocols.