From eDNA to citizen science: emerging tools for the early detection of invasive species

Eric R. Larson, Brittney M. Graham, Rafael Achury, Jaime J. Coon, Melissa K. Daniels, Daniel K. Gambrell, Kacie L. Jonasen, Gregory D. King, Nicholas LaRacuente, Tolulope I.N. Perrin-Stowe, Emily M. Reed, Christopher J. Rice, Selina A. Ruzi, Margaret W. Thairu, Jared C. Wilson, Andrew V. Suarez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Biological invasions are a form of global change threatening biodiversity, ecosystem stability, and human health, and cost government agencies billions of dollars in remediation and eradication programs. Attempts to eradicate introduced species are most successful when detection of newly established populations occurs early in the invasion process. We review existing and emerging tools – specifically environmental DNA (eDNA), chemical approaches, remote sensing, citizen science, and agency-based monitoring – for surveillance and monitoring of invasive species. For each tool, we consider the benefits provided, examine challenges and limitations, discuss data sharing and integration, and suggest best practice implementations for the early detection of invasive species. Programs that promote public participation in large-scale biodiversity identification and monitoring (such as iNaturalist and eBird) may be the best resources for early detection. However, data from these platforms must be monitored and used by agencies that can mount appropriate response efforts. Control efforts are more likely to succeed when they are focused on early detection and prevention, thereby saving considerable time and resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-202
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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