Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Snapshot of the CAWS
Midwest Region, October 25, 2011
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Chicago area waterway system (CAWS) map illustrating sites sampled daily for Asian carp eDNA during the snapshot event.
Chicago area waterway system (CAWS) map illustrating sites sampled daily for Asian carp eDNA during the snapshot event. - Photo Credit: Heather Calkins

In late October, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) teamed up with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct a large scale eDNA water collection effort coined the “eDNA Snapshot.” Usually one site per week is sampled for Asian carp DNA, but for this event all locations were covered over a three day period. FWS crews from Lacrosse and Columbia sampled different sites daily in the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) for a total of six sites.

Each morning crews were greeted by the EPA at the designated boat launch. They arrived in a van full of sampling goodies: six 120 quart coolers full of two liter Nalgene bottles, a hand pump sprayer full of bleach water for the boat, datasheets, maps, LOTS of latex gloves and an upbeat attitude. The positive outlook of our EPA partners allowed for a pleasant collaboration experience. Our day started by spraying the boat down with bleach and letting it soak for 30 minutes. This insured no Asian carp DNA was transferred between locations. Once the allotted time passed we were off to the races.

Sampling was performed in a downstream to upstream manner and usually in transects of three, moving from one side of the channel to the other(left bank, middle, right bank). Samples were also taken in targeted areas where accumulation of eDNA is most likely (i.e. backwaters, barge slips, pooled areas, etc). Each bottle was filled like a ½ gallon ladle, scooping it full and collecting any floating material or surface film that DNA may collect on. Habitat information was collected for each sample and the location marked with a GPS waypoint. Latex gloves were worn as yet another safeguard against DNA cross-contamination and were replaced after every transect. That meant more than 40 glove changes for the dipper! Also for quality assurance, blank and duplicate samples were taken. Blanks, bottles prefilled with de-ionized water, were assigned one per cooler to assure there was no contamination in the transport vessels and duplicate samples were taken as a double of a randomly pre-defined sample.

Once the 120 samples were taken for the day, the ~100lb. coolers were iced down and hastily loaded back into the EPA van. They were then returned to the lab where they were filtered by a crew comprised of the USACE, the EPA and the FWS. This sampling event concludes the eDNA work for the year in the CAWS. It was a pleasure getting to know our fellow Federal employees and is always gratifying to work with other offices and agencies to accomplish our goal of preventing further invasion and harm of non-indigenous species.

Contact Info: Heather Calkins, 573-445-5001 ext 29, heather_calkins@fws.gov
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