Are Environmental DNA Methods Ready for Aquatic Invasive Species Management?

Adam J. Sepulveda, Nanette M. Nelson, Christopher L. Jerde, Gordon Luikart

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Multiple studies have demonstrated environmental (e)DNA detections of rare and invasive species. However, invasive species managers struggle with using eDNA results because detections might not indicate species presence. We evaluated whether eDNA methods have matured to a point where they can be widely applied to aquatic invasive species management. We have found that eDNA methods meet legal standards for being admissible as evidence in most courts, suggesting eDNA method reliability is not the problem. Rather, we suggest the interface between results and management needs attention since there are few tools for integrating uncertainty into decision-making. Solutions include decision-support trees based on molecular best practices that integrate the temporal and spatial trends in eDNA positives relative to human risk tolerance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)668-678
Number of pages11
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • decision-support tree
  • eDNA
  • genetic monitoring
  • invasive species surveillance
  • nonnative nonindigenous species
  • risk tolerance
  • uncertainty


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