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Amy Welsh1, Chris Jerde2, Chris Wilson3, Margaret Docker4, Brian Locke5
1 West Virginia University, School of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 6125, Morgantown, WV 26506
2 University of California – Santa Barbara Marine Science Institute Building 520, Room 4002, Santa Barabara, CA 93106
3 Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Trent University, 2140 East Bank Drive, Peterborough, ON K9J 7B8
4 University of Manitoba 186 Dysart Road, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2
5 Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, 659 Exeter Road, London, ON N6E 1L3
Environmental DNA (eDNA) is a promising technique for greatly increasing the chance of detecting relatively rare or elusive organisms, such as invasive or endangered species. The method involves taking samples from the environment (e.g., water samples) and analyzing the DNA in those samples to identify which species are present. In collaboration with managers throughout the Great Lakes, information needs were identified and appropriate deliverables were defined. To meet these identified needs, we conducted a project that summarized potential uses and limitations of eDNA in fisheries management. The products developed during this project transparently acknowledge areas of scientific controversy and compile resources to help managers make informed decisions about eDNA monitoring in their jurisdictions. Two professional-quality infographics were developed that can be used in flyers, presentations, and other informational materials. The first graphic depicts the uses of eDNA, including collection procedure and data collection. The second graphic highlights the deposition of DNA in the environment and the factors that can influence DNA degradation. Two fact sheets were created, with one targeting fisheries managers in the Great Lakes and the other targeting the general public. A flowchart (“Positive eDNA Management Support Tree”) was created to help evaluate the strength of a positive eDNA result. Through use of the tree, positive eDNA results are assigned to Level 1-4, with Level 1 suggesting that the target organism is likely not present and Level 4 suggesting the organism is present and may be in sufficient numbers to support a population. The levels are intended to help prioritize sites for management action. A PowerPoint presentation was created that can be used to provide general information on the uses and limitations of eDNA. Notes are included within the presentation, providing additional details and supporting references for information on the corresponding slide. General guidance was developed for eDNA sampling. The document provides guidance on the amount of water to collect, the time and location of collection, and the appropriate number of samples. References are included for additional information.