Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research


eDNA, Lake Chubsucker, Microsatellite, Redside Dace


Trevor E. Pitcher




The conservation of imperilled fishes should be informed by species-specific genetic information. However, there are a lack of molecular data for most species at risk with the development of species-specific primer acting as a barrier to genetic evaluations. Here, I describe the development and preliminary testing of a set of microsatellite markers for the imperilled Lake Chubsucker (Erimyzon sucetta). These markers are apparently diploid, are polymorphic, and have been demonstrated to amplify individuals from across the species’ North American range. The microsatellite markers described in this thesis have applications for population genetics as well as informing source population selection for reintroduction. Demonstrating the absence of a species is required prior to reintroduction and can be difficult when conventional sampling is potentially harmful, especially for imperilled species. Environmental DNA (eDNA) is a novel and sensitive method of detecting the occurrence of aquatic organisms without direct interaction and, hence, impact. The non-invasive nature of this technique, coupled with its sensitivity, make it attractive for assessing the occurrence of fragile endangered species. Additionally, eDNA can be used during the winter when conventional sampling can be challenging. In this thesis, I use eDNA to survey for the occurrence of Redside Dace (Clinostomus elongatus), an endangered cyprinid, to gain a better understanding of its winter occupancy. A ROC framework is used to set a detection threshold and binary patterns of detection as well as eDNA signal strength are assessed. Results show that overwinter occupancy of Redside Dace is complex and eDNA signal strength is not related to flow or sample-site position in potentially occupied reaches. Together, eDNA and microsatellite analysis can be used to guide the conservation of endangered freshwater fishes.