The smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) is a cool-water fish species native to central North America. Widespread introductions and secondary spread outside of its historical range have led to new recreational fisheries and associated economic benefits in western United States, but have also resulted in a number of ecological impacts to recipient ecosystems, including threats to Pacific salmon. Management of introduced smallmouth bass populations, now and into the future, relies on accurate detection and monitoring of this species. To address this need, we developed an environmental DNA assay that can detect smallmouth bass DNA extracted from filtered water samples in concentrations as low as 2 mtDNA copies per reaction. Field testing demonstrated that eDNA sampling produced results largely consistent with snorkel surveys, a traditional visual assessment, and gained a few additional positive detections. While this assay is robust against non-target detection, including the only other Micropterus in Pacific Northwest streams, largemouth bass (M. salmoides), the high genetic similarity within the sunfish family Centrarchidae made it unable to distinguish smallmouth bass from spotted bass (M. punctulatus) and some Guadalupe bass (M. treculii). The high sensitivity of this method and assay will be particularly useful for identifying the location of non-native smallmouth bass in the Pacific Northwest, quantifying its rate of spread, and aiding management actions.
Franklin, Thomas W.; Dysthe, Joseph C.; Rubenson, Erika S.; Carim, Kellie J.; Olden, Julian D.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Young, Michael K.; Schwartz, Michael K. 2018. A non-invasive sampling method for detecting non-native smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu). Northwest Science. 92(2): 149-157.