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

Alaska Project

Wildfire effects on aquatic biodiversity measured using eDNA

December 2022 - September 2023


Participating Agencies

  • Alaska EPSCoR

Boreal ecosystems in Alaska are at the forefront of global climate change, and one of the primary impacts of this changing climate is an increase in the prevalence, magnitude, and severity of wildfire. Although less headline-grabbing than stories of burned forests, freshwaters also experience wildfire effects through mudslides and other sedimentation increases, temperature changes due to lack of shading, nutrient and pH effects from ash inputs, and alterations to stream hydrology and geomorphology due to watershed change. Understanding the biodiversity of fish and macroinvertebrates is essential to a quantitative appraisal of freshwater conditions, including assessment of ecosystem impacts to disturbance such as wildfire. Nonetheless, such assessment is generally lacking in broad swaths of Alaska. The advent of environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding using next-generation sequencing methods holds exciting potential for broad-scale assessments of freshwater biodiversity in such situations. In this study, I propose to use eDNA metabarcoding samples, including primers developed specifically for the quantification of aquatic macroinvertebrates and fish, to assess wildfire influence on freshwater biodiversity at a regional scale within Interior Alaska.

Presentations Presentation Date
Muehlbauer, J.D., W.T. Samuel and V.S. Zavoico. 2024. Alaskan stream macroinvertebrate diversity between burned and unburned catchments measured using eDNA. Alaska Chapter American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting, Seward, Alaska, 25-29 March 2024. March 2024
Muehlbauer, J.D. and W.T. Samuel 2023. Comparison of eDNA primers for aquatic invertebrate diversity in Interior Alaska streams. Alaska Chapter American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting, Fairbanks, Alaska, 27-31 March 2023. March 2023
Kwit, I.A., J.D. Muehlbauer and J. Hagelin. 2024. An exploration of phenological mismatch between aquatic prey and a terrestrial consumer. Alaska Chapter American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting, Seward, Alaska, 25-29 March 2024. March 2024