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Freshwater Crayfish 21(1): 159-163 (2015)


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Laboratory experiments for the detection of environmental DNA of crayfish: Examining the potential

Figiel Jr. CR and Bohn S  e-mail link

Published Online: 12/31/2015


We examined methods for detecting environmental DNA of the invasive white river crayfish Procambarus zonangulus. In a laboratory experiment, we investigated detection capability in benthic sediment samples and in water samples in six flow-through tanks. Additionally we determined whether crayfish density (low = 0.67 or high = 2.69 crayfish·m-2) or crayfish time in tanks influenced DNA detectability (collection of samples on Days 2, 5, 8 and 15). Species-specific primers and probes were designed for P. zonangulus and their specificity was tested against other crayfish species. Limits of detection and quantification were specified for the target DNA sequence by means of quantitative PCR amplifications on dilution series of known amounts of P. zonangulus DNA. We detected crayfish DNA in 14 of the 24 benthic sediment samples and in two of the 24 water samples. DNA detection was found in benthic sediment samples in at least two tanks at every sampling period, while DNA detection was found in water samples only on Day 8. Crayfish DNA was detected in benthic sediment and water samples independently of crayfish density. Crayfish at both densities were observed to ‘explore’ all areas of the tank and move irrespective of diurnal time or conspecific presence. These behavior patterns were observed throughout the 15 day experiment and likely resulted in the positive detections, especially in benthic sediment samples. We believe that these methods could benefit monitoring of invasive crayfish species, although there is no doubt that further optimization and more research is needed to evaluate these techniques in the wild.

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How to Cite

Figiel Jr. CR and Bohn S. (2015). Laboratory experiments for the detection of environmental DNA of crayfish: Examining the potential. Freshwater Crayfish 21(1):159-163. doi: 10.5869/fc.2015.v21-1.159



Author Information

Chester R. Figiel Jr.. ,* Warm Springs Fish Technology Center, US Fish and Wildlife Service, 5308 Springs Street, Warm Springs, Georgia, USA31830. E-mail:

Sandra  Bohn, The Southwestern Native Aquatic Resources & Recovery Center, US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1 Hatchery Road, Dexter, New Mexico, USA88230. E-mail:

Corresponding Author indicated by an *.


Publication History

   Manuscript Submitted: 8/14/2015

   Manuscript Accepted: 12/10/2015

   Published Online: 12/31/2015

   Published in Print: 12/31/2015



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No specific funding statement is available for this article.






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