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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office Field Tests Custom Designed Mobile eDNA Filtering Trailer!

Region 3, November 28, 2012
eDNA Mobile Filtering Unit
eDNA Mobile Filtering Unit - Photo Credit: n/a
Biologist Chris Olds setting up a filtering station to test out all the systems.
Biologist Chris Olds setting up a filtering station to test out all the systems. - Photo Credit: n/a
Wet lab of trailer with stainless steel work benches and cabinets under left workbench.
Wet lab of trailer with stainless steel work benches and cabinets under left workbench. - Photo Credit: n/a
Dry lab with full-height shelving and control panel.  Above shelves is storage for clean 2 liter water collection bottles.
Dry lab with full-height shelving and control panel. Above shelves is storage for clean 2 liter water collection bottles. - Photo Credit: n/a
Biologist Steve Hensler (in front)along with 3 other biologists filtering water samples.
Biologist Steve Hensler (in front)along with 3 other biologists filtering water samples. - Photo Credit: n/a

With the expected implementation of an environmental DNA (eDNA) program for the Great Lakes by 2014, the Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) began exploring options during 2011 for field-based filtration of water samples. Biologist Chris Olds suggested a mobile filtering unit similar to the Lake Sturgeon Stream-Side Rearing Units employed by Genoa National Fish Hatchery. The concept was a self-sufficient trailer designed for use at remote sampling locations along Lake Huron that maintained the ability to utilize a plug-in power source if facilities were available. Brainstorming and design considerations started in October 2011. The final trailer concept was shared with the Regional Safety Department and the La Crosse Fish Health Center Staff in late 2011 to ensure that it would meet all safety requirements and quality assurance standards for the water filtering procedures.

 

The trailer contract was awarded to Featherlite Inc. on July 3, 2012, who then worked with Alpena FWCO to ensure that the internal trailer components would meet all of the filtering needs both at remote sampling locations and when hooked up to shore power. The trailer design included wet lab area and dry lab areas, two large entry doors, a built-in vacuum system (with backup) capable of running all six filter stations in the trailer, and a built-in heating and A/C system. The trailer design also included a fresh water tank and an on-demand de-ionized water system. With trailer design and specifications complete, Featherlite Inc. went to work building the unit. Upon completion the trailer was then transported from Cresco, IA to Alpena, MI for final inspection by FWCO biological staff.

The trailer arrived at Alpena FWCO the week of October 22, 2012 and was outfitted with all necessary gear and field tested in late November, 2012. The mobile filtering unit exceeded all expectations and was able to handle all necessary functions concurrently. The dry lab is eight feet in length, while the wet lab is 14 feet in length. The wet lab has stainless steel countertops that run the length of the trailer on the outside walls and two sinks located at the front and back of the wet lab. There are seven vacuum line valves to accommodate the filter manifolds, with the vacuum pumps located below the bottom shelves in the dry lab area. The dry lab has floor-to-ceiling lockable cabinets that can store all necessary filtering consumables and enough 2-liter bottles to collect over 300 water samples. The trailer’s capabilities are endless-it can be utilized as a mobile eDNA filtering lab, a mobile field station, or even a mobile classroom. The Alpena FWCO is very pleased with their new trailer and is anxious to use it in the spring to collect water samples.

Resource outcomes: This project addresses the Aquatic Invasive Species’ priority of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fisheries Program’s Vision for the Future by increasing the Service’s leadership role in collaborative efforts to implement activities and programs that prevent the establishment of aquatic nuisance species.

Contact Info: Chris Olds, 989-356-5102 Ext. 1018, chris_olds@fws.gov