Biological Invasions

, Volume 20, Issue 11, pp 3079–3093 | Cite as

Performance of eDNA assays to detect and quantify an elusive benthic fish in upland streams

  • Rheyda HinloEmail author
  • Mark Lintermans
  • Dianne Gleeson
  • Ben Broadhurst
  • Elise Furlan
Original Paper


The sensitivity and specificity of eDNA-based monitoring, coupled with its potential utility to estimate population density or biomass, makes it a useful tool in invasive species management. In this study, we investigated the potential of the eDNA method to improve the detection of the elusive invasive fish, oriental weatherloach (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus), in a river system where a density gradient of the species occurs. We compared detection rates between eDNA and conventional monitoring methods and examined the relationship between eDNA and abundance in a flowing environment. The eDNA method had a higher site detection rate than conventional methods (63 vs. 38%). Weatherloach eDNA was detected at all sites where the fish has been previously caught and none of the sites where the species has not been caught for the past 7 years. There was an increasing density trend going downstream based on long-term conventional monitoring, but the eDNA concentration in water samples reflected this trend only in a continuous section of the river where impoundments were absent. We did not find a positive relationship between eDNA concentration and contemporary abundance estimates in our study area. A high eDNA concentration was recorded at a site (DVC) which was designated a low density site based on long-term catch data. This discrepancy was a likely result of physical habitat characteristics which influenced the efficiency of the conventional methods used. This study highlighted the challenges of inferring density from eDNA data in flowing water because habitat features may confound results, necessitating careful consideration for results to be useful to management.


Environmental DNA Weatherloach Invasive Density gradient Detection Abundance Monitoring 



This project was funded by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (Project 1.W.2) and the Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment. Conventional survey of oriental weatherloach was undertaken as part of a monitoring program funded by Icon Water. The authors are grateful to Ugyen Lhendup, Rhian Clear, Hugh Allan, Allan Couch, and Vernon Arguelles for their field assistance and Richard Duncan for his help with data analysis. Authorization to conduct the research in the Cotter and Paddys River were granted through ACT Government Scientific License Nos. FS20151, LT2015843, LT2008287; LT2010411; LT2011505; LT2013708; LT2014789; and LT2015843.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Applied EcologyUniversity of CanberraBruceAustralia

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