Environmental DNA (eDNA) Methods 


Environmental DNA (eDNA) is a relatively new method that is increasingly being used for survey of aquatic taxa, including vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants. This highly effective, cost-efficient and non-invasive method relies on the detection of genetic materials in aquatic ecosystems using laboratory analysis of water samples to detect DNA from the target taxa.

Environmental DNA methods are predicated on basic biological principles, and employ long-standing proven methods for laboratory testing. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) is the preferred method for detecting DNA in water samples as it provides an effective way to amplify, detect and identify existing DNA in sample water collected from natural aquatic systems.

Each NRTG course includes free, lifetime admission. Enroll in a particular course, and re attend that course at anytime.  Need to recertify? update field skills? new technologies?  Contact us for details.  

UPDATE: We will offer a one and two-day course version for two upcoming eDNA Methods courses ONLY;

  • North Vancouver, December 6-7th and

  • Calgary December 11-12th.

From January 2019 onward, the eDNA Methods course will only be available as a two-day course offering.

For these two course deliveries, enrollment and completion of Day Two is recommended for those participants interested in more in-depth hands-on field training. Enrollment in the full two-day course includes a field training session, and will provide training in effective survey design, sample collection, project implementation and reporting. Those interested in learning all aspects of eDNA methods are strongly encouraged to enroll in Day One and Two.

The training will benefit those interested in contracting or conducting eDNA field programs. Managers responsible for overseeing contracts for eDNA projects will benefit by attending Day One of the course. Participants that anticipate being involved in field collection, or those that simply want a more fulsome understanding of field logistics, should enroll in Day Two as well. This course has been extended by popular request to add a field component.

During Day One of the course, we’ll review updates on new BC Ministry of Environment eDNA sample collection protocols (Hobbs et al 2017), and gain an understanding of critical considerations for lab practices as described in a recent PLOSOne publication by University of Victoria and Jared Hobbs (Veldhoen et al 2016). Course instruction will help participants that intend to evaluate eDNA proposals to ensure quality during implementation and lab selection. Attendance in Day Two is strongly encouraged for staff who might find themselves in the field, conducting or supervising their own eDNA projects. 


This course was extremely informative and I learned a lot, I took away more than I expected to. It was basic enough for folks like me with little knowledge of genetics to understand but also technical enough for those with some exposure to the process to learn from.
— Jesse Laframboise, RPBio, AScT, CPESC Senior Biologist
Really enjoyed the level of instructor’s expertise and willingness to share all methods, theory and materials.
— Robyn Worcester, Biologist
This course answered all of my questions about eDNA. I now feel prepared to sample for eDNA in the field.
— John Rithaler, Biologist
As a non-biologist, I found this course to be very interesting and applicable to my profession.
— Stirling Angus, Project Manager
Leading edge instructor and in his field. Top notch. Really enjoyed learning field procedures for robust data collection. Very thoroughly explained
— J. Stephen Sims, Biologist
Very good presentation of a new scientific method. This course really advanced our understanding and application of eDNA methods. Field planning and budgeting information was very useful.
— Stirling Angus, Ecologist
Fantastic course! Very informative and motivational. Never a dull moment with Jared!
— Felicia Juelfs, Biologist
Jared is incredibly generous with his knowledge and time. Fabulous course!
— Hillary Page, Biologist
Great course and information! Lots of information, tons of tips and tricks too. Really liked the instructor’s review of all the “whys”.
— Corrie Allen, Biologist
Jared’s tireless enthusiasm was wonderful, and was my ability to be part of a ‘new era’ in applied biology. Great course!
— Annette Muttray, Biologist
Very informative course, transparent and at the cutting edge of eDNA research and application.
— Barry Warren, Biologist
Really enjoyed and benefited from Jared’s knowledge of eDNA - origins, methods (field, lab), applications and costs. High value course.
— Aron Weir, Biologist


By the end of Day One course participants will be able to:

  • Identify limitations and advantages of eDNA, including its use relative to conventional survey methods

  • Recognize opportunities where eDNA methods may confer efficiencies, in time and cost, relative to conventional methods.

  • Design and conduct an eDNA study and be familiar with field sampling methods and protocol to ensure successful project delivery.

  • Identify procedural requirements for safe handling, transport and storage of eDNA samples.

  • Identify and meet project requirements, from ‘cradle-to-grave’ including considerations for primer development, sample design, project budgeting, implementation and reporting.

By the end of Day Two course participants will be able to:

  • Plan and efficiently prepare for sample collection.

  • Prepare and conduct collection of eDNA samples in both lotic and lentic environments (location and weather permitting).

  • Identify and conduct critical reporting requirements to ensure accuracy and transparency during the reporting phase of any eDNA project.

Course format:

This two-day classroom and field-based course will include both lecture, demonstration and practical 'hands on' training in the standards and applications for lab and field eDNA procedures.

Participants in the one-day course will be given formal training on project design and will understand critical considerations for lab/sample-testing protocols (including data interpretation). In Day Two, participants will learn effective survey design, field mobilization, field sample-collection and formal reporting requirements.

Throughout both days of instruction, we’ll employ a ‘hands-on’ approach to tutor participants to ensure all participant’s have an opportunity to actively engage as we learn more about eDNA methodological requirements. You’ll complete the course with competency in all aspects of eDNA project implementation at a level suited to your anticipated needs.

Potential Students: 

This training will benefit those interested in conducting or contracting eDNA field programs. Managers responsible for overseeing contracts for eDNA projects will also benefit by attending this course.


There are no formal prerequisites.  

Personal Equipment Requirements:

 There are no personal equipment requirements for course participants.  Course participants may want to bring writing utensils/pads or laptop. For Day Two, participants should be prepared to spend time outside in potentially inclement weather. We recommend you bring rubber boots and rain gear, extra snacks and refreshments. For Day Two, please bring a bag lunch to allow for more field training time.

Course Fees:

Course fees will vary by course delivery location.  For further information, please refer to our Course Schedule.   

How do I Attend?

This course is available via our website schedule, or on contract to community groups. This course will be regularly scheduled for community-based deliveries throughout the year.  Interested groups or organizations can also arrange for an ‘in-house’ or contract delivery of this course.  In either scenario, contact NRTG for further information.

If you would like to have this course delivered to your group or community, please consider the following:

  1. Contact us well in advance of your preferred course start date

  2. If applicable, secure program funding

  3. Recruit course participants (most NRTG courses have minimum enrollments of 8-10 participants)

  4. Coordinate course participant equipment, classroom facility, and contractual agreement with NRTG.

Instructor Profile:

Jared Hobbs MSc., RPBio. Terrestrial Biologist

Jared Hobbs is a professional biologist with 25 years of applied experience designing and leading species assessment and conservation projects at both the local and provincial scale. His expertise is widely recognized, trusted and respected from his extensive work on many taxonomic clades. Jared is able to efficiently recognize and communicate wildlife and habitat values, across multiple industry sectors, during all phases of project implementation. His extensive experience in both interior and coastal ecosystems allows accurate association of species-specific ecological requirements with habitat values for a diverse array of species.

Since 2014, Jared has been applying eDNA methods into his standard practices during successful delivery of over 40 eDNA projects in BC and Yukon. Initially projects were focused on species at risk; more recently focus has expanded to include projects focused on fish and invasive species. Jared is the lead author for BC MOE RISC standards (submitted 2015), providing detailed instruction on protocol for field collection of samples from lentic and lotic systems. Jared is also working collaboratively with the University of Victoria genetics lab (Dr. Caren Helbing) to develop and refine eDNA laboratory methods with recent recognition and funding grants to support further advance of eDNA analytical methods.

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