What species is this? Or, what population did this individual come from? These types of questions can be answered by comparing DNA from an individual in question to a database of reference samples. In some situations answering these questions is critical for making urgent management decisions, in which case, we perform our "rapid-response" protocol. For example, in California, we use genetics to assign returning adult Chinook salmon to a particular ESU, which in turn, determines whether those fish are held for supportive breeding purposes. Another example is our work with hydro-facility operators to determine the population of origin for migratory bull trout captured at passage barriers. In some cases, additional information is requested, such as the sex of an individual or even determining an individual's parents based on genetic data.

Library Collections

Biologists prepare tubes for water samples during an eDNA sampling event.
Seven laboratories provide conservation genetics research and support to the Service and its partners. The labs provide sampling guidance, genetic data generation, and interpretation of genetic data for management, conservation and policy issues. Using a suite of molecular techniques, the labs...