Using eDNA to simultaneously detect the distribution of native and invasive crayfish within an entire country.
The introduction of invasive crayfish has led to a decline of many European native species of crayfish across their range. In this study, novel duplex assays for all crayfish occurring in Switzerland were developed. We aimed to identify the distribution of the seven species using a traditional trap surveillance method as well by collecting water samples to detect eDNA by species-specific quantitative real-time PCR. We reveal our overall experience in finding optimal field and laboratory techniques to discover the distribution and abundance of native and invasive species in order to enhance knowledge of early invasive species invasion and highlight important pockets of populations where native species remain, for implementation of conservation strategies. Using eDNA, important populations of native noble and white-clawed crayfish were revealed in multiple waters across various cantons. The successful identification of native and invasive crayfish species in Switzerland using eDNA can be applied to future nationwide projects. This method which has the ability to detect all species simultaneously across an entire country, will allow an improvement in freshwater crayfish conservation management.