Vernal Pools are Important Ephemeral Wetland Habitats
Fairy shrimp and the vernal pools that they in habitat are severely threatened by habitat degradation and land-use change. Management of fairy shrimp is limited by the inability to distinguish among species without the capture and sacrifice reproductive adults for morphological identification by taxonomic experts. Our study demonstrates that eDNA can detect and distinguish among endangered and common fairy shrimp in ephemeral, seasonal vernal pool ecosystems of Southern California. Importantly, eDNA outperformed traditional dip net sampling, detecting fairy shrimp for up to 2 months after dip nets failed to detect adult fairy shrimp. Results indicate that eDNA represents a simple, cost effective, and non-invasive method that allows managers to improve biomonitoring endangered fairy shrimp species, including expanding the time period for vernal pool monitoring activities.