Environmental DNA detection of endangered Pacific Pocket Mice after reintroduction: method development for monitoring the coastal sage chapparal.
Collaborators: San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Background: The Pacific Pocket Mouse is an endangered species in California native to the coastal sage chapparal ecosystem that has also been prime housing development space. This project is in collaboration with the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s scientists from the Pacific Pocket Mouse Conservation Breeding Facility who are reintroducing the Pacific Pocket Mouse in a large experimental enclosure in Laguna Beach. Fifty individuals are being monitored over time and this will inform the planning of a larger scale reintroduction.
Environmental DNA is a non-invasive technique to monitor the presence of species. Dr. Emily Curd, postdoctoral researcher supported by the Catalyst award, is using eDNA sampling at the reintroduction enclosure to ask three conservation questions.
Q1: How, and how often, must you sample in order to determine whether Pacific Pocket Mice are in an area?
Q2: How does the community of all kingdoms of organisms change after the removal of humans from the environment?
Q3: How does the reintroduction of the Pacific Pocket Mouse alter the biodiversity of its habitat?
Dr. Curd sampled soil in transects immediately after the enclosure was built and will continue to sample over the duration of the experiment. The results will also be used in method development of eDNA kits for citizen scientists to use.