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When are environmental DNA early detections of invasive species actionable?

May 27, 2023

Environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling provides sensitive early detection capabilities for recently introduced taxa. However, natural resource managers struggle with how to integrate eDNA results into an early detection rapid response program because positive eDNA detections are not always indicative of an eventual infestation. We used a structured decision making (SDM) framework to evaluate appropriate response actions to hypothetical eDNA early detections of an introduced aquatic plant in Sebago Lake (Maine, USA). The results were juxtaposed to a recent study that used a similar SDM approach to evaluate response actions to hypothetical eDNA early detections of introduced mussels in Jordanelle Reservoir (Utah, USA). We found that eDNA early detections were not actionable in Sebago Lake because the plant's invasion potential was spatially constrained and the current management activities provided acceptable levels of mitigation. In Jordanelle Reservoir, eDNA detections were actionable due to high invasion potential and analyses supported management actions to contain the invasion. The divergent outcomes of the two case studies are related to the unique attributes of the habitats and species, highlighting the utility of the SDM approach when considering an eDNA monitoring program. We use these two case studies to present a general SDM framework and a set of heuristics that can be efficiently applied to eDNA early detection rapid response scenarios and other instances associated with indeterminant eDNA detections, especially when there is an imperative to make decisions as quickly as possible.

Publication Year 2023
Title When are environmental DNA early detections of invasive species actionable?
DOI 10.1016/j.jenvman.2023.118216
Authors Adam J. Sepulveda, Christine E. Dumoulin, Denise L. Blanchette, John Mcphedran, Colin Holme, Nathan Whalen, Margaret Hunter, Christopher M. Merkes, Catherine A. Richter, Matthew Neilson, Wesley Daniel, Devin Nicole Jones, David R. Smith
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Environmental Management
Index ID 70244169
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Leetown Science Center; Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center; Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center; Wetland and Aquatic Research Center; Eastern Ecological Science Center