Conservation Genetics Resources

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 5–7 | Cite as

An eDNA assay for river otter detection: a tool for surveying a semi-aquatic mammal

  • Ticha M. Padgett-StewartEmail author
  • Taylor M. Wilcox
  • Kellie J. Carim
  • Kevin S. McKelvey
  • Michael K. Young
  • Michael K. Schwartz
Technical Note


Environmental DNA (eDNA) is an effective tool for the detection of elusive or low-density aquatic organisms. However, it has infrequently been applied to mammalian species. North American river otters (Lontra canadensis) are both broad ranging and semi-aquatic, making them an ideal candidate for examining the uses of eDNA for detection of mammals. We developed a species-specific assay for detection of North American river otters using eDNA. The assay was tested for specificity against closely-related mustelids native to western North America, and was validated through testing environmental samples.


Environmental DNA River otters Semi-aquatic mammals Survey 



We thank ZooMontana and Mackenzie Mentel for exhibit samples. We thank Justin Gude, Neil Anderson, Jeff Copeland, Wayne Melquist, Jody Tucker, Kristy Pilgrim, and Joel Sauder for reference samples. We also thank Rob Jensen and Advanced Problems in Science, Hellgate high school, Missoula, MT, USA, for their support. TMW is supported by a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (Grant No. DGE-1313190).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish ConservationRocky Mountain Research StationMissoulaUSA
  2. 2.Hellgate High SchoolMissoulaUSA
  3. 3.Division of Biological SciencesUniversity of MontanaMissoulaUSA

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