Webinar: Completing the loop: Combining occupancy modeling, crowd-sourcing, and eDNA sampling to inventory bull trout across their U.S. range

Event Type: 
GNLCC Webinar
Date and Time: 
Feb 10, 2016 12:00 pm MST

Presenter: Mike Young, USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station
Co-authors: Dan Isaak, Kevin McKelvey, Michael Schwartz, Kellie Carim, Wade Fredenberg, Taylor Wilcox, Matt Groce, Dave Nagel, Dona Horan, and Sherry Wollrab

Interest in using environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling to monitor aquatic species is exploding. This technique makes it possible to conduct rapid and cost-effective broad-scale species assessment and monitoring, particularly when informed by robust species distribution models. Here, we provide preliminary results from an effort to identify habitats occupied by juvenile bull trout in all 4th-code basins constituting their historical U.S. range.

We developed a sampling template based on 1) the probability of habitat occupancy by juvenile bull trout from the Climate Shield model and 2) simulated and empirically tested probabilities of eDNA-based detection of stream-dwelling salmonids. A cadre of state, tribal, federal, and NGO biologists collected the samples, supported by equipment and analyses provided by the National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation. Those analyses confirmed many expectations and refuted others about habitat occupancy by bull trout, and are forming the basis for immediate action by managers. The data also constitute the foundation for building better occupancy models for juvenile bull trout, which will be fundamental to understanding where this species will persist during the 21st century.

About the presenter: Michael Young is a research fisheries biologist with the Rocky Mountain Research Station’s Air, Water, and Aquatic Environments Program and National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation. His research focuses on the ecology, evolution, and conservation of freshwater species in western North America.


Diagram showing the cycle of the project research

Clockwise from the upper left: The Climate Shield occupancy model determines where to sample for juvenile bull trout, eDNA-based detection efficiencies dictate the sampling interval, field sampling for eDNA follows, and the resultant patterns of occupancy lead to advancements in the occupancy model.