Dillon Waters, senior biology major, was recently awarded funds ($1,020) from Cove Point National Heritage to support his St. Mary’s Project titled, “Comparison of Traditional Freshwater Sampling Methods versus eDNA Water Sampling to Assess Aquatic Biodiversity in Maryland Streams.”
Dillon’s St. Mary’s Project under the mentorship of Sean Hitchman, visiting assistant professor in biology, will research more efficient ways to monitor changes in aquatic biodiversity. Conservative estimates indicate that freshwater environments provide habitat for at least 126,000 plant and animal species. Unfortunately, freshwater ecosystems are experiencing declines in biodiversity. Continuous monitoring of species composition in freshwater habitats is essential for proper conservation practices. While there are many traditional freshwater monitoring methods for biodiversity they tend to vary in efficiency, are time consuming, and costly. Dillion will specifically investigate and compare a more efficient method of aquatic biodiversity monitoring, environmental DNA (eDNA) collection. Comparison of a more efficient method will assist with future conservation efforts.