Early detection of an emerging invasive species: eDNA monitoring of a parthenogenetic crayfish in freshwater systems.
Procambarus virginalis, also known as the Marmorkrebs is a highly invasive crayfish species characterized by parthenogenetic reproduction. As conservation management plans rely on the accuracy of the presence and distribution information of invasive species, a reliable method is needed for detecting such species in aquatic systems. We developed and validated a qPCR-based assay for monitoring P. virginalis at low abundance, by detecting their eDNA traces left in freshwater systems. We were able to implement this new assay in-situ at two separate lakes in Germany, where the crayfish were known to be present. Furthermore, we did not detect the pathogenic fungus Aphanomyces astaci in the locations where the Marmorkrebs were detected. We conclude that the use of eDNA is therefore a reliable tool for the early detection of this "perfect invader".