Spencer Boyd

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences

Committee Chair

Matthew L. Niemiller

Committee Member

Bruce Stallsmith

Committee Member

Zach Culumber


Crayfish--Ala.bama--Marshall County--Identification, Crayfish--Ala.bama--Morgan County--Identification, Cambarus--Ala.bama--Marshall County--Identification, Cambarus--Ala.bama--Morgan County--Identification, Ecological assessment (Biology), DNA--Analysis


Cave-dwelling species live in habitats that are hard to access and study. They often are small, elusive to capture, and possess morphological characters that make them difficult to identify without collection and dissection. Environmental DNA (eDNA) offers a nondestructive, noninvasive, and potentially cost-effective way to monitor and detect these species. I investigated the use of eDNA to detect two troglobitic crayfishes Cambarus speleocoopi in Marshall County and Cambarus laconensis in Morgan County, Alabama. I developed and tested in silico and in vivo primer-probe quantitative PCR assays for both species, then screened water samples collected from caves and springs in northern Alabama. Cambarus speleocoopi was detected at six sites, including three historical sites, whereas C. laconensis was not detected at any sites, including the type locality. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of using eDNA for detection of cave-dwelling species while also highlighting issues that can occur using this approach.



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