AP speaks with Kinnison, grad student for report on Arctic char DNA study

The Associated Press spoke with Michael Kinnison, a professor of evolutionary applications at the University of Maine; and Brad Erdman, a UMaine graduate student in ecology; for a report on a study of DNA in the waters where a rare species of fish can be found. The Arctic char can be found in 14 lakes and ponds in Maine, but nowhere else in the continental United States, according to the report. The char face threats like invasive predators and a warming climate, and are difficult to track. Kinnison and others are working with the state to ensure the population’s survival. Kinnison said the DNA shed by the fish and other organisms into the water can provide vital information needed to inform their work, and can be studied by collecting water samples, a less invasive and less time-consuming method than other ways, AP reported. “If your only tool to count a species is a gill net, and there’s not many, do you make the tough choice to risk killing the individuals to find them? It’s a way to get an idea of where organisms are located and do it in a way that presents really no harm,” Kinnison said. Erdman, who also is working on the project, said it launched in 2017 and is expected to continue through the summer. Bangor Daily News, Portland Press Herald, WABI (Channel 5), Maine Public, The TelegraphIndia Today and Manila Bulletin carried the AP report.