Volunteer surveillance of AIS using eDNA: Phase II


This is a MAISRC project testing a citizen science approach for detecting aquatic invasive species using eDNA. The research team will provide volunteers with sampling dates, materials, and protocols in order to assess the accuracy of eDNA monitoring, and investigate the prevalence of high priority aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels, rusty crayfish, spiny waterflea, and common carp in Minnesota.

This is an extension of a previous phase of eDNA sampling aimed at determining how well eDNA sample collection and filtration methods can be deployed by volunteers. We are learning about how effective volunteers are at detecting AIS with the hope of scaling this project up to detect aquatic invasives throughout Minnesota.

Volunteering for this project will help the research team gather important information on the effectiveness of eDNA sampling conducted by citizen scientists. It will also allow the research team to receive valuable feedback on how they can reform the process for future iterations. 

Lakes to be surveilled: 

  • Leech Lake
  • Mille Lacs
  • Forest Lake
  • White Bear Lake
  • Lake Phalen
  • Lake Owasso
  • Lower Prior Lake
  • Island Lake Reservoir
  • Shagawa Lake
  • Lake Vermilion
Fish design

Aquatic invasive species (AIS) can pose a serious threat to aquatic ecosystems, and their presence usually results in significant ecological and economic damage. Early detection of AIS allows for a better chance of eradication and effective management strategies to be employed. Minnesota currently samples for aquatic invasives opportunistically; however, in order to sufficiently monitor for AIS, widespread surveillance techniques must be developed that are rapidly deployable, cost-effective, accurate, and feasible for non-researchers to use. This lack of standardized, representative sampling means that our current understanding of AIS prevalence in Minnesota lakes is likely underestimated.

University of Minnesota researchers and staff are developing protocols and eDNA sampling kits designed to be used by community volunteers. eDNA, genetic material collected from the environment, is a powerful tool that can be used to indicate the presence and abundance of organisms. Diffusion of eDNA should allow for detection of AIS with small samples of water collected anywhere within the lake. 

Contact the research team

Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC) and the State of Minnesota.

Logo for the State of MN


Project managers: Gretchen Hansen and Joshua Dumke

Funded by: The Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC) and the State of Minnesota.

Project start date: Jan 2023

Project end date: Dec. 2023