Building a Climate Shield and Aquatic eDNAtlas to protect biodiversity in the American West
Protecting aquatic biodiversity this century will require unprecedented levels of coordination among natural resource organizations and the public. Huge historical stream temperature datasets exist and have been contributed by >100 agencies to develop high-resolution climate scenarios for all 500,000 miles of streams and rivers in the American West through the NorWeST project (website: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/boise/AWAE/projects/NorWeST.html). Those scenarios were used in the Climate Shield project (website: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/boise/AWAE/projects/ClimateShield.html) to develop species distribution models and map the locations of climate refugia for native trout conservation planning. Expansion of the approach to include all species is now occurring through the use of revolutionary new environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling that is inexpensive, rapid, and sensitive. Thousands of sites are being sampled annually using eDNA, so to reduce redundancy and maximize data sharing among organizations, the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation has funded the Aquatic eDNAtlas project (https://www.researchgate.net/project/The-Aquatic-eDNAtlas-for-the-American-West) to develop a comprehensive interagency database, sampling template maps, and a website to ensure standardization of data collections while providing access to samples collected in association with the National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation (http://www.fs.fed.us/research/genomics-center/). Data posted to the Atlas website will be provided online in flexible digital formats that enable efficient use for many purposes that include species status assessments, trend monitoring, distribution modeling, detection and tracking of nonnative species invasions, and assessments of habitat restoration efforts. The website and database will be launched in the latter half of 2017 and will be updated semi-annually with newly processed samples from those willing to share their data.