Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Anthropogenic global climate change is forcing the mass extinction of wildlife across the globe. Humans depend on freshwater ecosystems for many aspects of life including agricultural production, sanitation, and recreation. Healthy levels of biodiversity in freshwater environments ensure economically beneficial ecosystem services are maintained. Freshwater ecosystems are hotspots for biodiversity and have higher levels of imperiled organisms compared to terrestrial and marine systems. Within freshwater systems, freshwater mussels (Family: Unionidae) are the most imperiled with over 70% of North American species assigned to a conservation class as judged by state or federal management agencies. The objective of this study was to develop an aquatic environmental DNA (eDNA) protocol that increases detection sensitivity to target rare and endangered aquatic organisms in Kansas. The Cylindrical Papershell mussel (Anodontoides ferussacianus) was listed as endangered in Kansas in 2019. This species was used for protocol development due to its contracting distribution and low population density. Increased detection sensitivity will be necessary for successful conservation strategies as we proceed through the Anthropocene due to increased costs associated with monitoring and managing an increasing number of declining populations. This protocol, in conjunction with traditional sampling efforts, will aid in future monitoring and recovery plans of native aquatic species.


Dr. William Stark

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type



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