Making sense of the noise: The effect of hydrology on silver carp eDNA detection in the Chicago area waterway system.Sci Total Environ. 2017 Dec 15; 605-606:713-720.ST
Environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling is an emerging tool for monitoring the spread of aquatic invasive species. One confounding factor when interpreting eDNA sampling evidence is that eDNA can be present in the water in the absence of living target organisms, originating from excreta, dead tissue, boats, or sewage effluent, etc. In the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS), electric fish dispersal barriers were built to prevent non-native Asian carp species from invading Lake Michigan, and yet Asian carp eDNA has been detected above the barriers sporadically since 2009. In this paper the influence of stream flow characteristics in the CAWS on the probability of invasive Asian carp eDNA detection in the CAWS from 2009 to 2012 was examined. In the CAWS, the direction of stream flow is mostly away from Lake Michigan, though there are infrequent reversals in flow direction towards Lake Michigan during dry spells. We find that the flow reversal volume into the Lake has a statistically significant positive relationship with eDNA detection probability, while other covariates, like gage height, precipitation, season, water temperature, dissolved oxygen concentration, pH and chlorophyll concentration do not. This suggests that stream flow direction is highly influential on eDNA detection in the CAWS and should be considered when interpreting eDNA evidence. We also find that the beta-binomial regression model provides a stronger fit for eDNA detection probability compared to a binomial regression model. This paper provides a statistical modeling framework for interpreting eDNA sampling evidence and for evaluating covariates influencing eDNA detection.