Murray hardyhead (Craterocephalus fluviatilis)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 162513531
Hunting the Murray Hardyhead: locating fragmented populations of an endangered fish species in the vast River Murray system.
As the River Murray is so vast, it is not financially or spatially plausible to restore habitat zones along the entire river system, but instead restoration efforts must be appropriately-geographically focused. To do this successfully, it is critical that information regarding the specific locations and abundance of rare native species is obtained. Current fish survey tools, such as invasive netting, are not ideal for large-scale ‘screening’ operations for rare and endangered species.
Environmental DNA (eDNA) sequencing has been suggested as a potential new and powerful tool for this type of scenario. It describes collecting an environmental sample such as water, and extracting and sequencing DNA molecules within the sample to determine what species are present nearby. Previous studies for other rare species have shown that eDNA results are highly specific and semi-quantitative, and non-invasive to the local flora and fauna.
This grant funding would enable the development of eDNA screening tools for endangered MHH fish species and enable the precise locations of small fragmented populations to be geographically mapped. Then using ‘large-scale eDNA screening’ followed up with more ‘localised fyke-netting’, this information will assist with the selection of target areas for MHH habitat restoration, perhaps saving this species from extinction.
- Photo of field sampling
- field sampling for Murray Hardyhead DNA
- water sample filtration to collect fish DNA on filter membranes
Project 162513531 location - Australia, Oceania