Can water sampling detect otters?

Yes. We’ve detected otters (Lutra lutra) with both single-species qPCR assays and metabarcoding assays. We’ve even detected Neotropical otters (Lontra longicaudis) and giant river otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) in Peru. Otters do seem to be slightly underrepresented in metabarcoding datasets given how much time they spend in the water. This may be because a lot of eDNA originates from faeces, and otter latrines are on land rather than in the water. We can also ID otters from their spraints (and even use metabarcoding of the spraints to understand their diets).

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