Utilising environmental-DNA sampling to detect threatened small-bodied fish

Have you you heard about eDNA (or ‘environmental’ DNA)? Well, Aquasave-NGT’s Nick and Sylvia have been awarded a grant through the Nature Foundation to utilise this sampling technique in combination with traditional net sampling to try and detect small bodied fish (up to 15cm length) in the lower reaches of the Murray Darling Basin. In a simple explanation, DNA is extracted from a number of water samples to determine the fish species present!

Their study through this grant will focus on the Watchalunga Nature Reserve – a Nature Foundation property within the Fleurieu Peninsula, which was historically a known site for endangered freshwater small bodied fish such as the Yarra Pygmy Perch (Nannoperca obscura) and the Murray Hardyhead (Craterocephalus fluviatilis) – the latter of which is now facing extinction within the Murray Darling Basin.

Nick and Sylvia are hoping that utilising eDNA sampling will increase their ability to detect these small bodied fish species, help to provide accurate knowledge of species status and distribution, and also help inform future conservation strategies.

Nick and Sylvia provided a great overview of the project in a recent Nature Conservation webinar. Take a look!

Lauren Kivisalu