eDNA Trout Pilot Study






FTR is seeking $15,000 in funding to directly support the sampling and processing of 300 eDNA tests on the Teton River. 

FTR has worked for over 20 years to strengthen the scientific community’s understanding of Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout (YCT), the only native trout species in the Teton River, through innovative research and monitoring. 

Historically, YCT flourished in the Teton River. Between 1999 and 2003, numbers plummeted by 95% due to natural and human causes. Much of FTR’s fisheries research has focused on understanding the causes of this decline and how to improve conditions for native trout. Over the last 15 years, extensive monitoring has indicated an unprecedented rebounding of YCT populations where FTR has targeted restoration efforts. While this is great news for cutthroat, non-native trout have also entered the ecosystem during this time, posing a threat to native trout in the Teton River.  

What is this pilot study? 

FTR’s eDNA trout pilot study involves the sampling and processing of environmental DNA (eDNA) tests on the upper Teton River. This leading-edge technology will help FTR staff and agency partners assess the status, threats, and future management needs for YCT populations. 

eDNA is a new, but well-established tool used by fisheries managers around the world. eDNA refers to DNA material that is shed and able to be extracted with a sample from the surrounding environment, in this case, water. This tool is easy to use and detects species that occur at a low density, and thus will be exceptionally accurate at detecting trout species in the Teton River. This project is the result of coordinated interagency involvement and input from experts in the field, including partners such as Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG), the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Forest Service.  

FTR staff will take samples in the Teton River from Victor to the old Teton Dam site, between July—October 2022. Samples will be processed in the winter of 2022/2023 and FTR plans to share findings by March of 2023. This report will be shared in our bi-weekly e-newsletter The Current (distribution list ~1,500) and in our bi-annual print newsletter Water Lines (circulation ~800). Results will also be shared via our “state of the fishery” community presentation, public outreach events, and social media.  

What will this study tell us? 

Determining the extent of native and non-native trout populations in the Teton River will aid in ongoing YCT conservation efforts. Bi-annual electrofishing surveys have discovered important information about trout populations but tell an incomplete story as they only provide information from select IDFG survey sites. eDNA will allow data collection throughout the entire Teton River, painting a complete picture of where various trout populations are thriving.  

FTR’s data provides crucial information to Idaho Fish & Game (IDFG) and other state and federal agencies that make management decisions. We then work together to implement projects that protect and restore native trout and their habitat in the Teton River Watershed. 

What do we need?

FTR is seeking $15,000 in funding to directly support the sampling and processing of 300 eDNA tests on the Teton River. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS Rocky Mountain Science Center) has pledged $15,000 in matching funds to support the survey design, eDNA lab processing and analysis, and the U.S. Forest Service will donate water sampling equipment to FTR. Your commitment plays a critical role in this fundraising campaign, enabling FTR to respond quickly to this emergent opportunity.

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      Please note that no goods or services were provided in exchange for this contribution. Friends of the Teton River is a tax-exempt organization as described in Section 501c3 of the Internal Revenue Code; EIN# 82-0527505.