Environmental DNA Surveillance of Rare species
January 2022 - January 2025
- Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge System
- Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
The aim of the proposed project is to use environmental DNA (eDNA) surveillance to monitor Little Chucky Creek and associated tributaries with similar habitat features within its known and former range for the presence of chucky madtom (a federally endangered catfish) known from only two systems, Little Chucky Creek and Dunn Creek.
While likely extirpated (doesn't exist in the wild) from Dunn Creek, the chucky madtom may still exist in a small stretch (3 km) of the Little Chucky Creek. However, given the rarity and cryptic behavior of this fish, surveillance with traditional methods (e.g., snorkeling or kick-seining) is time consuming, may yield inaccurate detection, or harm the species.
Environmental DNA may offer an alternative surveillance option for this small, cryptic, and extremely rare fish species. Environmental DNA surveillance works by collecting a water sample from targeted sites with no harm or harassment to the animal or habitat, and offers a less time-consuming and more sensitive surveillance method for rare and cryptic species.