Graham Sustainability Institute

Developing DNA Methods to Monitor Invasive Species and Biodiversity in Estuaries

Why this project?

Biological monitoring programs are essential foundations for effective management of estuaries and coasts, but they can be expensive to conduct and may be traumatic for the target species. Advancements in DNA methods now make it possible to identify the organisms in an area by the DNA they leave behind. Environmental DNA (eDNA) comes from feces, gametes, scales, and cells that an organism sheds, and is easily collected from water and sediment samples. Rapid reductions in analytical costs now allow scientists to analyze eDNA in water samples and identify dozens of species without having to capture live animals or plants.

About this project

This project will work collaboratively with resource managers in Oregon, Maine, and New Hampshire to pilot and refine DNA-based monitoring protocols that can be applied to specific issues and species of interest in estuarine ecosystems.

Project lead and contact

Alison Watts, University of New Hampshire, Email: 

To learn more, view the project fact sheet (PDF) or visit the project website.