Pacific lamprey eel

A fisherman gets a catch he wasn't expecting during a surf perch fishing clinic — a Pacific lamprey eel. 

CHARLESTON — The South Slough Reserve is seeking volunteers to participate in a pilot citizen science project. There will be an informational meeting from 10-11 a.m. Tuesday, July 9, at the South Slough Reserve Interpretive Center located at 61907 Seven Devils Road in Charleston. Contact Reserve Outreach Coordinator Deborah Rudd to RSVP at 541-888-5558, ext. 158, deborah.rudd@state.or.us

The South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve has funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service to study the use of environmental DNA monitoring methods to monitor biodiversity in freshwater ecosystems. The project will use DNA filtered from water samples to map distributions of western brook lamprey and Pacific lamprey at over 100 sites in the Coos, Coquille and Siuslaw watersheds. 

Lamprey are a first food for native people and fill an important role in highly functioning ecosystems. There are at least two native species of lamprey living in Oregon’s coastal watersheds, yet very little information is known about their distributions and population size. Accurate knowledge of fish distribution is a critical first step in habitat protection, restoration and enhancement on U.S. Forest Service managed lands.

Potential citizen science volunteers will be included in the initial testing of methods and asked to provide feedback. Reserve education staff will also assist in testing methods with select local high school student classes. Citizen science volunteers will gain an understanding of the scientific method and an appreciation for lamprey and the surrounding habitat.

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