NYC/NJ Aquatic Vertebrate Environmental DNA (eDNA) Project

Together with Monmouth University, we hosted the first National Conference on Marine Environmental DNA, November 29-30, 2018. The Conference included approximately 100 American ocean scientists and associated stakeholders, including representatives from academe, federal, state, and local governments, non-governmental organizations concerned with marine environment, and the private sector. The strong sense of the meeting was “eDNA works–let’s get going.” The Conference Final Report and press release summarize the conference proceedings and outline concrete steps forward.

The Conference attracted coverage in Science online and print, and National Geographic online, reflecting the excitement around marine eDNA for monitoring and exploring ocean life.

Marine environmental DNA (eDNA) offers a relatively low-cost, harmless tool for tracking presence and abundance of marine animals in space and time.

Marine eDNA will help monitor impacts of human activities and natural events in our changing oceans, and aid research and exploration in ocean, estuary, and coastal habitats.

   Marine eDNA 101 booklet         pdf high res (17.5 MB)          pdf low res (618 KB)

eDNA localized in time: year-round and seasonal fishes in NY Harbor (high-res file)

eDNA localized in space: bay fish eDNA in bay, ocean fish eDNA in ocean (high-res file)

eDNA sees seasonal sharks and rays, dolphins and whales (high-res file)

Probable wastewater fish eDNAs in New York Harbor

More eDNA: Coney Island, Martha’s Vineyard, Sea of Galilee

Contact: Mark Stoeckle                          Site updated November 2018

More aquatic eDNA projects

           2015 NYC Marine eDNA survey                  2015 eDNA NYC Central Park


Stoeckle MY, Mishu M, Charlop-Powers Z. GoFish: a versatile strategy for nested PCR environmental DNA assays for marine vertebrates. PLOS ONE 2018:e0198717.

Stoeckle MY. Fishing for DNA: free-floating eDNA identifies presence and abundance of ocean life. The Conversation, April 12, 2017.

Stoeckle MY, Soboleva L, Charlop-Powers Z. Aquatic environmental DNA detects seasonal fish abundance and habitat preference in an urban estuary. PLOS ONE 2017: e0175186 link to open access article


About this site

This web site is an outgrowth of the Taxonomy, DNA, and Barcode of Life meeting held at Banbury Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, September 9-12, 2003. It is designed and managed by Mark Stoeckle, Perrin Meyer, and Jason Yung at the Program for the Human Environment (PHE) at The Rockefeller University.

About the Program for the Human Environment

The involvement of the Program for the Human Environment in DNA barcoding dates to Jesse Ausubel's attendance in February 2002 at a conference in Nova Scotia organized by the Canadian Center for Marine Biodiversity. At the conference, Paul Hebert presented for the first time his concept of large-scale DNA barcoding for species identification. Impressed by the potential for this technology to address difficult challenges in the Census of Marine Life, Jesse agreed with Paul on encouraging a conference to explore the contribution taxonomy and DNA could make to the Census as well as other large-scale terrestrial efforts. In his capacity as a Program Director of the Sloan Foundation, Jesse turned to the Banbury Conference Center of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, whose leader Jan Witkowski prepared a strong proposal to explore both the scientific reliability of barcoding and the processes that might bring it to broad application. Concurrently, PHE researcher Mark Stoeckle began to work with the Hebert lab on analytic studies of barcoding in birds. Our involvement in barcoding now takes 3 forms: assisting the organizational development of the Consortium for the Barcode of Life and the Barcode of Life Initiative; contributing to the scientific development of the field, especially by studies in birds, and contributing to public understanding of the science and technology of barcoding and its applications through improved visualization techniques and preparation of brochures and other broadly accessible means, including this website. While the Sloan Foundation continues to support CBOL through a grant to the Smithsonian Institution, it does not provide financial support for barcoding research itself or support to the PHE for its research in this field.