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Environmental DNA (eDNA) detection using PCR and gel electrophoresis can be used to detect the presence of target species. In this study, an eDNA method was established with the sensitivity to detect American eels (Anguilla rostrata) in stream water in tributaries of the Hudson River, New York. This study is successful in determining presence and absence of American eels in environmental samples. Two eDNA preservation protocols, by filtration and pelleting, are tested on streams of known and unknown eel abundances. Eels are detected in 100% of streams and there are only small differences in the mean estimate of occupancy of eels between the methods. This study is a preliminary assessment of correlating the proportion of positive detections against known eel abundances, with the goal of creating an index to estimate eel abundance from an eDNA survey alone. However, eDNA might not be a useful method for determining abundance. A tank experiment is also done in a controlled environment to assess eDNA detection over a period of hours and days, yet the pelleting method is perhaps less accurate when high levels of DNA are present. With this study, a refined American eel eDNA method has been established to add to the growing body of knowledge on eDNA successes and suggested approaches moving forward.
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Ray, Aliza Rachel, "eDNA survey of American Eels (Anguilla rostrata) in Hudson River tributaries" (2014). Senior Projects Spring 2014. 221.