Fish biodiversity assessment of Abrams Creek, Tennessee
Ballard, Willem Glenn
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Biodiversity assessments are routinely used to investigate and safeguard native ecosystems and natural resources. New assessment approaches based on DNA shed into the environment (environmental DNA, eDNA) are powerful tools, but most are constrained to surveying one species at a time via quantitative PCR. This study reports results from eDNA sampled via PCR and Illumina DNA sequencing from a model Appalachian stream in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park as a means of measuring fish biodiversity as compared to the currently employed sampling method of electrofishing. The eDNA sequencing method is a less invasive, less harmful, and potentially more informative survey technique that reports the same type of information collected by electrofishing. Sampling of two separate sites on Abrams Creek with 12 species of interest at each site revealed significant correlation between the results from electrofishing and eDNA sequencing (Spearman’s Rho = 0.85, p <0.001; Rho = 0.90, p <0.0001 for the two sites).