Permanent link to Research Commons versionhttps://hdl.handle.net/10289/15283
Carp (Cyprinus sp.) are a highly invasive fish that pose a significant threat to freshwater ecosystems worldwide. At high biomasses (i.e., ≥100 kg/ha), the benthic feeding behaviour of carp can have deleterious ecosystem effects, often changing clear, macrophyte dominant waterbodies to turbid-phytoplankton dominant ecosystems. To prevent carp from reaching ecologically harmful biomasses, early detection (i.e., before population establishment) and rapid control actions are vital. Boat electrofishing, netting, and environmental DNA (eDNA) are commonly used to survey for carp, but these methods can be expensive or time inefficient when fish densities are low. Scent-detection dogs have proven efficacious at detecting terrestrial and aquatic species and could represent an efficient method for early detection of carp invasions. Here, we investigated a dog’s sensitivity and specificity to carp scent using a multiple probe design experiment. The dog was trained to use an automated carousel independently of its handler and assessed water samples from aquaria containing either no fish scent (n = 3, nontarget), goldfish (Carassius auratus) scent (n = 5, non-target) or carp scent (n = 9, target). The goldfish samples and six of the target samples were presented to the dog at a standard fish biomass concentration of 15.5 mg/L. The remaining three target samples (probes) were systematically diluted to determine the dog’s detection threshold. Results showed that the dog could detect carp housed under laboratory conditions down to a dilution equivalent biomass of 9.3 kg/ha (i.e., 0.5 mg carp/L), which is well below the likely biomass threshold of carp known to cause significant ecological impacts. The dog’s scent-detection performance was then compared with eDNA, an existing survey method. Quantitative PCR conducted on DNA extracted from laboratory aquaria filtrate revealed that the species-specific primer could detect carp at 9.3 kg/ha, but amplification rates at this dilution were low, as were all dilutions below the limit of quantification (≈160 kg/ha). These findings suggest that dogs could provide an accurate and highly sensitive method invasive fish detection. However, before deployment as a carp surveillance method, dogs’ performance on water samples collected from natural aquatic systems (i.e., lakes, ponds, rivers) needs to be evaluated. To our knowledge this is the first published study of its kind comparing a dog’s sensitivity to eDNA, and investigating the potential utility of dogs as an invasive fish detection method.
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/bync-nd/4.0/).