Sustain Our Nation's Forests and Grasslands

Identifying and eradicating aquatic invasive species in the Pacific Northwest

PNW Scientist, Brooke Penaluna, collecting water sample for use in the Aquatic Invasive Species Monitoring Program
PNW Scientist, Brooke Penaluna, collecting water sample for use in the Aquatic Invasive Species Monitoring Program. Photo courtesy of PNW Research Station.

A critical element in the management of public lands and native aquatic species is the identification and eradication of aquatic invasive species. Left unchecked, aquatic invasive species are known to have devastating ecological and economic effects. The Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station is working with the Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service to develop a cost-effective Aquatic Invasive Species Monitoring Program.

This program will leverage existing region-wide field-based aquatic habitat monitoring. However, additional sampling is needed in “big water,” including lakes, reservoirs and navigable river reaches. These locations have a high risk of aquatic invasive species introduction and are not part of current monitoring efforts in the wadeable portion of the river system.

Innovative and cutting-edge multispecies environmental DNA, or eDNA, has been proposed as a useful tool to fill this gap in current monitoring efforts. Identifying species that are present in water samples from residual DNA could provide a breakthrough for the monitoring of invasive species, as well as rare species of concern, helping managers plan for multiple management objectives.

A Pilot Monitoring Project at sites on the Deschutes, Rogue, Siskiyou and Siuslaw national forests is planned to begin in summer 2017 with the objective of testing survey designs and methodology for using multispecies eDNA in big-water environments. In addition, in a parallel effort, regionally specific primers, or targets, for groups of native aquatic taxa of interest are also being developed.

Ongoing collaborative work between the Pacific Northwest Research Station and Region 6 on the topic of aquatic invasive species monitoring is bringing together partner organizations including the Bureau of Land Management, and may have a strong impact on management strategies and prioritization of invasive species eradication and control efforts.