What's the Big Idea?— Turning to eDNA to Detect Invasive Species

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Detailed Description

Adam Sepulveda, research zoologist at the USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, explains a scientists at NOROCK are using environmental DNA — the identification of species through biological information they leave behind in their habitat — to detect invasive species and how this method could change the way scientists find evidence of biodiversity in ecosystems.


Date Taken:

Length: 02:35:00

Location Taken: Bozeman, MT, US


My name is Adam Sepulveda.

I'm a research zoologist with the Northern
Rocky Mountain Science Center here in Bozeman,


I work primarily on invasive species issues
and one of our concerns is developing techniques

to detect them before they can become formally
established and have impacts.

So the last seven years, we've been developing
environmental DNA techniques which is a technique

to look for the DNA of our target organism
in a water sample.

Now we are trying to move beyond that and
build on it and actually look for evidence

of biodiversity in a water sample.

It gives us, hopefully a precise measure of
biodiversity and that's usually important

because we are losing biodiversity.

The only way to, one of the primary means
to effectively manage biodiversity is to be

able to accurately depict it.

So here is a mechanism where we can do that.

The primary means by getting the DNA sample
is to go out into the field and collect anywhere

from a fifteen milliliter to a five liter

We are also developing techniques to sample
thousands of liters of water, so that means

getting to the field site and grabbing those
water samples.

Where this technique is amazing, is for those
field sites that are very hard to access,

so where you are hiking or taking a boat or
a plane to get into a remote site because

you can get a lot of information in one very
expensive and intensive visit.

Like with most other projects, it's a funding

It's hard to get new funding without seed...without
pilot data and it's hard to get pilot data

without seed funding.

So we are constantly looking at trying to
generate that initial, those initial pilot

data to show that this technique not only
works, but that it is useful to managers and


The element that is innovative about my work
is moving beyond a single?species approach

to a multi?species approach and when I say
"multi," that could mean thousands to tens

of thousands of species that we could identify
from a water sample versus the one to five

that we are currently doing right now, through