Posted by: Bridgett Hernandez

  • 11/15/2021

Detecting wildlife in the Cedar Creek Corridor

ACRES nature preserves provide researchers and citizen scientists with opportunities to study the natural world around us. By allowing scientists to work on ACRES properties, we gain knowledge from their findings that makes us better-informed stewards of the land.

Each day, these protected places serve as a setting for learning and discovery. In the coming weeks, we’ll share stories of the science happening throughout our service area. We hope these “Science Snapshots” inspire you to join ACRES in our mission to protect these places, for the benefit of all — today and forever.

Elle Di Girolamo captured these deer in Cedar Creek on her camera trap.

Elle Di Girolamo, a graduate student studying biology at Purdue University Fort Wayne, is conducting research at Dorothy and Ray Garman Nature Preserve in Allen County to determine if environmental DNA (eDNA) is an effective way to detect the presence of American mink.

The preserve is just north of Metea County Park. Each week, she camera trapped the site for five days, then collected water samples from Cedar Creek on the fifth day. She plans to extract mink DNA from the samples and compare the results with the photos captured by the camera trap.

“Our goal is to see whether eDNA is an effective way to survey for American mink and its potential to replace other traditional survey methods (such as visual, scat and mink raft surveys),” she said.

Di Girolamo had not yet started to extract DNA from the samples at the time this article was written. She had captured one potential photo of a mink on the camera trap as well as deer, wood ducks, Canada geese, raccoons, a great blue heron and hooded mergansers. Click through the slideshow to see the wildlife Di Girolamo’s camera trap captured along Cedar Creek!

A big thank you to Elle Di Girolamo for sharing her fascinating work with us!

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2021 ACRES Quarterly, mailed to members each season. The 20-page Quarterly features ACRES news, stories and events. You can subscribe by becoming an ACRES member with a donation of $20 or more. Click here to learn more!