RSPB aimed to test whether eDNA could provide data to assess the habitat suitability of lochs for Common Scoter.
A few pairs of common scoter breed in the Scottish lochs each year. In some lochs, scoters compete with brown trout for invertebrate prey, but where small fish (e.g. minnows & sticklebacks) are present the trout feed on these and competition with the scoters is reduced.
This project aimed to test the ability of eDNA to characterise fish communities with a particular focus on the presence of trout and small fish species, in order to predict competition pressure for the common scoter. We did not expect to detect the scoter itself since sampling took place outside its breeding season.