Advancements in technology and techniques have seen an uptake in eDNA as an additional reliable survey method option. The expert team at APEM are using this innovation as part of their sampling treasure chest, designing site-specific surveys to meet the needs of our clients.

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eDNA surveying at Wimbledon Park

Freshwater surveying

For most freshwater species, traditional survey methods such as kick sampling and electric fishing remain the regulatory bodies’ preference for monitoring. However, they are increasingly recognising the role of eDNA as a complementary survey option.

For instance, eDNA has been a regulator-approved method for protected great crested newt (GCN) detection since 2014, and the Water Framework Directive – United Kingdom Technical Advisory Group (WFD – UKTAG) have recently published guidance on how to determine the WFD class for the lake fish biological element using eDNA.

APEM are regularly designing and delivering bespoke eDNA survey programmes to provide insight for:

  • Fish assemblage assessments in lakes and ponds
  • Presence of protected species, including GCN
  • European eel presence/absence to inform Eel Regulations, 2009 assessments
  • Invasive and Non-Native Species (INNS) monitoring
  • Invertebrate biodiversity assessments
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eDNA has many benefits and is a method that not only provides specific species detection but can also be used to conduct biodiversity assessments and perform dietary analyses.

A single sample can be used to test for multiple un-related taxonomic groups e.g., fish, invertebrates, mammals, and some pathogens.

The many benefits of eDNA testing include:

  • Sensitivity with detection of species at low densities
  • eDNA surveys are less invasive and provide a lower risk of transferring INNS and/or disturbing protected species than traditional survey methods
  • Sample collection is quick and generally requires fewer resources than traditional methods, therefore often saving money

eDNA is particularly good for sites of public interest or for confidential projects as it is less obvious and can be completed quickly. For example, electric fishing surveys require several team members and can attract a lot of attention from passers-by.

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eDNA sampling fieldwork

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For example:

  • Do you require single species detection or a population summary?
  • What species/taxonomic groups are of interest? (The suitability of eDNA as a survey method will vary depending on this)
  • What type of habitat is being surveyed? If aquatic, is it a still or flowing water site?
  • What time of year are the surveys being conducted? (Certain species have seasonal sampling requirements)
  • What level of confidence is required in the results?
  • How quickly are the results required?
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Blithfield Resevoir

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