A PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION INTO THE USE OF ENVIRONMENTAL DNA TO DETECT THE PRESENCE OF RARE EURYCEA SALAMANDERS IN THE DEVILS RIVER, TEXAS
Serio, Tara Camille
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Preliminary surveys at the Southern Unit of the Devils River State Natural Area (DRSNA-SU) near Del Rio, Texas, suggest that two undescribed species of Eurycea salamanders may inhabit this westernmost area of their projected habitat range, but no research has specifically investigated their presence. Members of the genus Eurycea found in central Texas are primarily aquatic and inhabit aquifers. Most species of Hill Country Eurycea salamanders are suspected to be threatened or endangered. Following an unsuccessful trapping effort, primers were designed from the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene that have the potential to be specific to the genus Eurycea. As part of an introductory investigation these primers were used to explore the potential of extracting environmental DNA (eDNA) to demonstrate species presence. While these methods did not yield conclusive results, this project contributes to the growing body of work on eDNA as an inexpensive way to monitor freshwater species.