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Seasonal variation in environmental DNA detection in sediment and water samples

Buxton, Andrew S., Groombridge, Jim J., Griffiths, Richard A. (2018) Seasonal variation in environmental DNA detection in sediment and water samples. PlosOne, 13 (1). e0191737. ISSN 1932-6203. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0191737)


The use of aquatic environmental DNA (eDNA) to detect the presence of species depends

on the seasonal activity of the species in the sampled habitat. eDNA may persist in sediments

for longer than it does in water, and analysing sediment could potentially extend the

seasonal window for species assessment. Using the great crested newt as a model, we

compare how detection probability changes across the seasons in eDNA samples collected

from both pond water and pond sediments. Detection of both aquatic and sedimentary

eDNA varied through the year, peaking in the summer (July), with its lowest point in the winter

(January): in all seasons, detection probability of eDNA from water exceeded that from

sediment. Detection probability of eDNA also varied between study areas, and according to

great crested newt habitat suitability and sediment type. As aquatic and sedimentary eDNA

show the same seasonal fluctuations, the patterns observed in both sample types likely

reflect current or recent presence of the target species. However, given the low detection

probabilities found in the autumn and winter we would not recommend using either aquatic

or sedimentary eDNA for year-round sampling without further refinement and testing of the


Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1371/journal.pone.0191737
Subjects: Q Science
Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH541 Ecology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Depositing User: Richard Griffiths
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2018 17:38 UTC
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2019 15:48 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Buxton, Andrew S.:
Groombridge, Jim J.:
Griffiths, Richard A.:
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