Fishing for mammals : landscape-level monitoring of terrestrial and semi-aquatic communities using eDNA from riverine systems

Sales, NG, McKenzie, M, Drake, J, Harper, L, Browett, S, Coscia, I ORCID:, Wangensteen Fuentes, OS ORCID:, Baillie, C, Bryce, E, Dawson, D, Ochu, EE ORCID:, Hanfling, B, Handley, LL, Mariani, S ORCID:, Lambin, X, Sutherland, C and McDevitt, A ORCID: 2020, 'Fishing for mammals : landscape-level monitoring of terrestrial and semi-aquatic communities using eDNA from riverine systems' , Journal of Applied Ecology, 57 (4) , pp. 707-716.

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Access Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Sales, NG, McKenzie, MB, Drake, J, et al. Fishing for mammals: Landscape‐level monitoring of terrestrial and semi‐aquatic communities using eDNA from riverine systems. J Appl Ecol. 2020; 57: 707– 716. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.


1. Environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding has revolutionised biomonitoring in both marine and freshwater ecosystems. However, for semi-aquatic and terrestrial animals, the application of this technique remains relatively untested.
2. We first assess the efficiency of eDNA metabarcoding in detecting semi-aquatic and terrestrial mammals in natural lotic ecosystems in the UK by comparing sequence data recovered from water and sediment samples to the mammalian communities expected from historical data. Secondly, using occupancy modelling we compared the detection efficiency of eDNA metabarcoding to multiple conventional non-invasive survey methods (latrine surveys and camera trapping).
3. eDNA metabarcoding detected a large proportion of the expected mammalian community within each area. Common species in the areas were detected at the majority of sites. Several key species of conservation concern in the UK were detected by eDNA sampling in areas where authenticated records do not currently exist, but potential false positives were also identified.
4. Water-based eDNA metabarcoding provided comparable results to conventional survey methods in per unit of survey effort for three species (water vole, field vole, and red deer) using occupancy models. The comparison between survey ‘effort’ to reach a detection probability of ≥0.95 revealed that 3-6 water replicates would be equivalent to 3-5 latrine surveys and 5-30 weeks of single camera deployment, depending on the species.
5. Synthesis and Applications. eDNA metabarcoding can be used to generate an initial ‘distribution map’ of mammalian diversity at the landscape level. If conducted during times of peak abundance, carefully chosen sampling points along multiple river courses provide a reliable snapshot of the species that are present in a catchment area. In order to fully capture solitary, rare and invasive species, we would currently recommend the use of eDNA metabarcoding alongside other non-invasive surveying methods (i.e. camera traps) to maximize monitoring efforts.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Originally titled "Fishing for mammals : landscape-level monitoring of terrestrial and semi-aquatic communities using eDNA from lotic ecosystems"
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences > Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Applied Ecology
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0021-8901
Related URLs:
Funders: British Ecological Society, University of Salford, University of Massachusetts
Depositing User: Dr A McDevitt
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2020 14:19
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2022 03:53

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