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ESR 48:43-50 (2022)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr01187

Environmental DNA approach complements social media reports to detect an endangered freshwater stingray species in the wild

Kean Chong Lim1,*, Amy Y. Then1,2

1Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur 50603, Malaysia
2Institute of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur 50603, Malaysia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Environmental DNA (eDNA) barcoding has emerged as an important non-invasive sampling technique for the detection of rare and endangered species that can be difficult to sample. Our objective was to develop a low-cost eDNA barcoding approach for the detection of an Endangered freshwater stingray species Fluvitrygon kittipongi in a tropical river system in Peninsular Malaysia. We designed a species-specific primer for a fragment of F. kittipongi cytochrome oxidase subunit I mtDNA (244 bp). The effectiveness of this primer to detect the stingray was evaluated using water samples taken from the upper and middle reaches of the Pahang River coupled with social media reports on sightings of F. kittipongi. Five of 14 water samples tested showed positive PCR amplification for the targeted species. These results represent the first successful application of eDNA to detect freshwater stingrays in Malaysia. Using a combination of freshly obtained carcass samples, social media reporting and target species eDNA detection, this study provides formal occurrence records of F. kittipongi in Malaysia in 3 major watersheds: the Perak, Pahang and Kelantan Rivers.


KEY WORDS: Fluvitrygon kittipongi · eDNA · Distribution · Malaysia · Pahang River · Non-invasive sampling


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Cite this article as: Lim KC, Then AY (2022) Environmental DNA approach complements social media reports to detect an endangered freshwater stingray species in the wild. Endang Species Res 48:43-50. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr01187

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