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A comparison of European eel Anguilla anguilla eDNA concentrations to fyke net catches in five Irish lakes


Laura Weldon


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Mark Steer
Associate Professor in Conservation Biology

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Lynda Newton
Dean and Head of School of Applied Sciences


The European eel, Anguilla anguilla, is classified as critically endangered by the IUCN. To protect what remains of the European eel population, accurate monitoring methods for this species are important. Environmental DNA (eDNA) techniques are gaining popularity for ecological monitoring of aquatic organisms because they are sensitive and non-invasive. This study directly compared catch data from a standardised fyke-net fishing survey with a single species A. anguilla eDNA survey in five freshwater lakes in Ireland. The eDNA was recovered by the filtration of water samples and amplified by quantitative real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR). European eel eDNA was reliably determined in 83 % (70/84) of surface water samples collected from lakes classified as having high, medium and low eel populations. In addition there was a positive association between the eDNA concentrations recovered and the eel population classification with lower eDNA concentrations in lakes classified as low eel population lakes. Similar amounts of A. anguilla eDNA were detected in water samples collected from open water and shore-side, suggesting shore sampling is an adequate method for eel detection. Together, the results demonstrate that eDNA sampling is more sensitive for detecting eel presence in low eel population environments than standard survey methods, and may be a useful non-invasive tool for monitoring A. anguilla species distribution.


Weldon, L., O’Leary, C., Steer, M., Newton, L., Macdonald, H., & Sargeant, S. L. (2020). A comparison of European eel Anguilla anguilla eDNA concentrations to fyke net catches in five Irish lakes. Environmental DNA, 2(4), 587-600.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 30, 2020
Online Publication Date May 25, 2020
Publication Date Oct 1, 2020
Deposit Date May 18, 2020
Publicly Available Date May 26, 2020
Journal Environmental DNA
Electronic ISSN 2637-4943
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 2
Issue 4
Pages 587-600
Keywords Lakes; Anguillidae; quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction; population monitoring; environmental DNA.
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