Time series experiments reveal that environmental DNA tracks zooplankton population dynamics in large mesocosms
Environmental DNA (eDNA) holds great potential for biomonitoring and ecological research. However, its utility for quantifying temporal changes in abundance, biomass, and diversity remains contentious. In this thesis, I investigated biotic and abiotic factors influencing temporal and spatial variation in eDNA concentration. Time series data demonstrated a positive relationship between the population abundance of the cladoceran zooplankton species Daphnia magna and its eDNA concentration in large aquatic mesocosms, with a time lag of ~ 3.5 days. Environmental temperatures of 15 °C promoted greater eDNA persistence than metabolically favorable (25 °C) conditions. Levels of spatial autocorrelation suggest that the swimming activity of Daphnia and/or thermally-driven mixing might have homogenized the distribution of their eDNA over the entire water column.