Date of Award


Publication Type


Degree Name



Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research


Aquatic invasive species, Conservation, eDNA, Endangered species, Fishes, Plateau lakes


H.J. MacIssac


G. Chen



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Dianchi Lake, Yunnan, China is a eutrophic plateau lake. Many native fish species in the lake are currently endangered or extinct due to a variety of stressors. Community surveys are important for ecological management and protection, though efforts are hampered by low abundance of some species. The goal of this thesis was to understand the community structure and distribution of fish in Dianchi Lake and to detect Sinocyclocheilus grahami, a critically endangered species endemic to the lake, using both traditional netting methods and environmental DNA. Using traditional netting and trapping, I found that the fish community of Dianchi Lake has been almost completely converted to nonnative species (~97% of abundance). Loss of native fishes was also very serious, with ~77% of species not detected. I designed specific primers for the COI region mitochondrial gene of Sinocyclocheilus grahami. While only two individuals of Sinocyclocheilus grahami were caught using traditional methods during the survey, results of eDNA analysis revealed that this species is likely present across the central and southern region of the lake. This study highlights the sensitivity of environmental DNA and its utility in non-destructively detecting presence of very rare species.