Estimation of Fish Biomass Using Environmental DNA
Environmental DNA (eDNA) from aquatic vertebrates has recently been used to estimate the presence of a species. We hypothesized that fish release DNA into the water at a rate commensurate with their biomass. Thus, the concentration of eDNA of a target species may be used to estimate the species biomass. We developed an eDNA method to estimate the biomass of common carp (Cyprinus carpio L.) using laboratory and field experiments. In the aquarium, the concentration of eDNA changed initially, but reached an equilibrium after 6 days. Temperature had no effect on eDNA concentrations in aquaria. The concentration of eDNA was positively correlated with carp biomass in both aquaria and experimental ponds. We used this method to estimate the biomass and distribution of carp in a natural freshwater lagoon. We demonstrated that the distribution of carp eDNA concentration was explained by water temperature. Our results suggest that biomass data estimated from eDNA concentration reflects the potential distribution of common carp in the natural environment. Measuring eDNA concentration offers a non-invasive, simple, and rapid method for estimating biomass. This method could inform management plans for the conservation of ecosystems.