PubMed | b Ministere des Forets and Laval University
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Genome | Year: 2016
Among vertebrates, herpetofauna has the highest proportion of declining species. Detection of environmental DNA (eDNA) is a promising method towards significantly increasing large-scale herpetological conservation efforts. However, the integration of eDNA results within a management framework requires an evaluation of the efficiency of the method in large natural environments and the calibration of eDNA surveys with the quantitative monitoring tools currently used by conservation biologists. Towards this end, we first developed species-specific primers to detect the wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) a species at risk in Canada, by quantitative PCR (qPCR). The rate of eDNA detection obtained by qPCR was also compared to the relative abundance of this species in nine rivers obtained by standardized visual surveys in the Province of Qubec (Canada). Second, we developed multi-species primers to detect North American amphibian and reptile species using eDNA metabarcoding analysis. An occurrence index based on the distribution range and habitat type was compared with the eDNA metabarcoding dataset from samples collected in seven lakes and five rivers. Our results empirically support the effectiveness of eDNA metabarcoding to characterize herpetological species distributions. Moreover, detection rates provided similar results to standardized visual surveys currently used to develop conservation strategies for the wood turtle. We conclude that eDNA detection rates may provide an effective semiquantitative survey tool, provided that assay calibration and standardization is performed.