Wildlife Services

Aquatic Surveys

eDNA metabarcoding is a powerful tool for surveying aquatic vertebrate communities without the need to catch the animals themselves. It has been shown to be effective in a wide variety of aquatic ecosystems (ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, estuaries and oceans) and is particularly well developed for surveying fish communities.
NatureMetrics provides kits and instructions for collecting eDNA samples from various types of waterbodies. Our sampling kits are based on manual on-site filtration of water, and the filters can be sent to the laboratory using non-specialist postage.


We offer two principal laboratory services: (1) Fish Only surveys using an assay that specifically targets fish DNA in the sample; (2) Vertebrate surveys using a combination of assays to target fish, mammals, amphibians and birds. These surveys are based on eDNA metabarcoding to reveal community data from you water samples.



Key considerations and limitations

It’s important to be aware of the inherent uncertainties in the use of eDNA for monitoring, particularly in terms of the distance that eDNA can travel from the source organism while still remaining detectable. This means that in flowing water the eDNA signal should be regarded as characteristic of the diversity in the wider upstream catchment rather than only reflecting the species present at the sampling site itself.

In still water, eDNA moves much less far from source and can be patchily distributed. Our sampling protocols take account of waterbody type in order to account for the different levels of expected mixing.

For fish, data can be considered semi-quantitative, with more sequences generally obtained for the more abundant species. However, this relationship can be affected by spawning events. The same is true for amphibians during the aquatic phases of their lifecycles. Mammal and bird detections are fairly common but should be considered as incidental records and neither interpreted quantitatively nor taken as proof of absence where no detection is made.

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