Date of Award


Document Type

Distinction Paper

Degree Name

Zoo and Conservation Science-BS


Biology & Earth Science


Anna Young, PhD

First Committee Member

Anna Young, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Jennifer Bennett, Ph.D.


Indian Rhinoceros, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Monitoring, Conservation, Environmental DNA, eDNA

Subject Categories

Animal Sciences | Zoology


The use of environmental DNA (eDNA) monitoring has shown great promise in the context of aquatic, marine, and recently semi-aquatic species, but little research has examined its potential use in terrestrial or semi-terrestrial mammals, such as the Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis). This rhinoceratid has experienced significant habitat fragmentation, pressure from poaching, and subsequent population decline in its range of India and Nepal. As such, effective conservation management techniques that are based on accurate distribution assessments—ideally, free from potential observer error, less influenced by elusive behavior, and of minimal disturbance to the individuals being observed—are crucial to continue to ensure the survival of this species. The objective of this study was to evaluate the potential use of eDNA monitoring for the Indian rhinoceros by collecting water samples from several locations along a lake system, at the beginning of which Indian rhinos are maintained in a semi-free ranging context. Quantitative PCR successfully amplified eDNA up to the farthest site approximately 2800m from the beginning of the lake system, suggesting that eDNA could potentially be a feasible monitoring technique with terrestrial mammals in general and the Indian rhinoceros specifically.

Available for download on Thursday, April 17, 2025