Assessing the Linkage Between Aquatic Biodiversity and Water Chemistry in the Stones River Watershed

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Jacqueline Williams
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
The Stones River Watershed is home to great aquatic diversity but is subject to anthropogenic pollution from multiple sources. Traditional biodiversity survey methods require a lot of time and expertise for the proper identification of each taxonomic group and involve highly invasive methods. A new biodiversity survey tool, environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding, is a non-invasive and fast method to efficiently and accurately capture species richness within a variety of environment types. It has the ability to quickly assess an ecosystem's species composition and aid conservation efforts. In this study, we captured eDNA and measured water nutrient concentrations that are common in anthropogenic runoff. We discovered over 9000 amplicon sequence variants that corresponded to unique sequences of animals in the Stones River Watershed. While this high diversity was not correlated with water nutrients, it is a useful base of knowledge for conservation work to build on. KEYWORDS: biology; eDNA; water chemistry; Stones River