Using environmental DNA to determine wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) presence in New Brunswick, Canada rivers

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University of New Brunswick
Worldwide turtle and tortoise populations are declining, including the semi-aquatic wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) of eastern North America. With a limited survey season, a more efficient method of detection was needed to monitor this cryptic species. DNA barcoding with environmental DNA (eDNA) has been shown to be an effective method of monitoring cryptic, rare, and threatened species. Water samples were collected in October 2017 and 2018 from an upstream and downstream site on fourteen rivers in New Brunswick, Canada. In our eDNA lab, the samples were filtered, extracted and, with the use of species-specific primers and probe, amplified using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). With the use of qPCR, wood turtle eDNA was detected in five of six rivers known to inhabit the species. This method is a promising tool that can be used for the conservation and monitoring of G. insculpta.