Non-Invasive Detection and Identification of Eastern Hellbender in Ohio Surface Waters Using Aquatic Environmental DNA (Phase 2)

Eastern Hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) are reclusive aquatic salamanders that are declining in population across their range, up to 80% decline in Ohio. They are currently listed as endangered by Ohio Division Natural Resources and are a candidate species for federal listing by US Fish and Wildlife Service. Due to their endangered status, Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) must perform habitat assessment and presence/absence surveys at project sites. Currently, the most effective method to assess presence involves personnel wading in water, shifting and flipping large rock slabs or log jams, and visually searching for the species. This method is dangerous to surveyors and disruptive to the species and their habitat. Recent studies have successfully identified Eastern Hellbender presence using environmental DNA (eDNA). Using a developed eDNA procedure, entire watersheds could be studied to determine Eastern Hellbender locations in relation to ODOT project sites. This approach could develop data which would eliminate entire reaches of Ohio streams from the need for further surveys for future ODOT projects. The goal of Phase 2 is to improve documentation of Eastern Hellbender distribution throughout Ohio streams via a comprehensive methodology developed in Phase 1 of the research for detection, locating, and mapping the animals in the wild. The desired methodologies would include mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis from environmental samples as well as telemetry data. The outcome of the telemetry and mtDNA research would develop an effective and inexpensive method for determining the presence or absence of Eastern Hellbenders that can be easily and reliably used by the staff of the ODOT Office of Environment at future project sites.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $659660
  • Contract Numbers:



  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Ohio Department of Transportation

    Research Program
    1980 West Broad Street
    Columbus, OH  United States  43223
  • Project Managers:

    Nye, Kelly

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Cincinnati

    Civil Engineering Department, P.O. Box 210071, 741 Baldwin Hall
    Cincinnati, OH  United States  45221-0071
  • Principal Investigators:

    Wendell, David

  • Start Date: 20180320
  • Expected Completion Date: 20210320
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01662976
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Ohio Department of Transportation
  • Contract Numbers: 30792, 135671
  • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Mar 20 2018 12:39PM