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Detection of an enigmatic plethodontid Salamander using Environmental DNA

March 1, 2016

The isolation and identification of environmental DNA (eDNA) offers a non-invasive and efficient method for the detection of rare and secretive aquatic wildlife, and it is being widely integrated into inventory and monitoring efforts. The Patch-Nosed Salamander (Urspelerpes brucei) is a tiny, recently discovered species of plethodontid salamander known only from headwater streams in a small region of Georgia and South Carolina. Here, we present results of a quantitative PCR-based eDNA assay capable of detecting Urspelerpes in more than 75% of 33 samples from five confirmed streams. We deployed the method at 31 additional streams and located three previously undocumented populations of Urspelerpes. We compare the results of our eDNA assay with our attempt to use aquatic leaf litterbags for the rapid detection of Urspelerpes and demonstrate the relative efficacy of the eDNA assay. We suggest that eDNA offers great potential for use in detecting other aquatic and semi-aquatic plethodontid salamanders.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2016
Title Detection of an enigmatic plethodontid Salamander using Environmental DNA
DOI 10.1643/CH-14-202
Authors Todd W. Pierson, Anna M. McKee, Stephen F. Spear, John C. Maerz, Carlos D. Camp, Travis C. Glenn
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Copeia
Series Number
Index ID 70175946
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Georgia Water Science Center