DNA sampled from the environment (eDNA) is a useful way to uncover biodiversity patterns. By combining a conceptual model and empirical data, we test whether eDNA transported in river networks can be used as an integrative way to assess eukaryotic biodiversity for broad spatial scales and across the land–water interface. Using an eDNA metabarcode approach, we detect 296 families of eukaryotes, spanning 19 phyla across the catchment of a river. We show for a subset of these families that eDNA samples overcome spatial autocorrelation biases associated with the classical community assessments by integrating biodiversity information over space. In addition, we demonstrate that many terrestrial species are detected; thus suggesting eDNA in river water also incorporates biodiversity information across terrestrial and aquatic biomes. Environmental DNA transported in river networks offers a novel and spatially integrated way to assess the total biodiversity for whole landscapes and will transform biodiversity data acquisition in ecology.