What We’re Reading- June 8, 2018

Stakeholders Diverse Interests in Endangered Vulture Conservation The Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) is an endangered bird native across northern Africa, the Middle East, and as far east as the Indian subcontinent.  Researchers asked diverse stakeholders including hunters, ranchers, and tourists in northern Spain (the upper range of the vulture’s distribution) about their knowledge of the species…

Rhino Conservation: Dehorning Demand

There are five living species of rhinoceros: black (Diceros bicornis), white (Ceratotherium simum), Javan (Rhinoceros sondaicus), Indian (Rhinoceros unicornis), and Sumatran (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) rhinos.  And not too long ago there was a woolly rhino (Coelodonta antiquitatis) that roamed northern Eurasia until it went extinct ~14,000 years ago.  The IUCN lists black, Javan, and Sumatran rhinos as…

What We’re Reading – Jan 26, 2018

Temporal Genotyping for Conservation Monitoring This paper advocates using museum specimens to quantify recent losses of genetic diversity in species of conservation concern.  The authors note that older demographic processes leave a signature on genetic diversity that can be difficult to distinguish from recent changes.  Thus they show how using temporal sampling allows researchers to…

Does Biodiversity Matter?

Through fashion, I showed you how scientists calculate biodiversity and what it means. While some areas of the world are naturally more diverse than others – one thing is true: we are losing biodiversity at an alarming rate due to manmade causes. We are currently in the sixth mass extinction event to ever happen on…

What We’re Reading- April 28, 2017

Next-Generation Microsatellites What if conservation’s favorite marker (the microsatellite) could be sequenced and genotyped from next-generation data?  This paper (sub) is the latest showing that possibility and specifically introduces a genotyping and phasing tool: HipSTR.  Microsatellites have propelled much of conservation genetics and users are familiar with data analysis and interpretation of results.  As next-generation…

Is Model Emily Ratajkowski Hurting or Helping Sea Turtles?

*This post was updated on April 6th, 2017.  I get a daily alert from Vogue magazine (I know, shocking!). Today, I clicked on a link to check out model Emily Ratajkowski’s vacation photos from Mexico and was shocked to see her Instagram holding a baby sea turtle. This is bad for so many reasons. I am writing…

What We’re Reading- Jan 13, 2017

Ash Trees Under Attack European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) face dieback across their range due to a fungal pathogen (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus).  Currently, there is no effective treatment for trees with the fungus, including managed removal of trees to prevent spread of the disease.  However, natural variation in resistance to the pathogen is known and could be…

What We’re Reading- Jan 6, 2017

Pangolin Trade Network All species of pangolins are endangered throughout their range, due in large part to poaching for their meat and scales.  Using media reports, a team of researchers identified approximately 65,800 individuals were harvested and seized between 2008-2016 although the level of harvest not detected remains unknown.  Notably, only 117 individuals were reported poached in the…

Do Endangered Species have 12 Years to Wait?

My colleagues and I recently published on the time it takes to list a species under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA).  This post will highlight some of our main findings with a few extra thoughts I have about the data. How long SHOULD it take to list a species under the ESA? In 1982…

What We’re Reading- July 29, 2016

When a Wolf is a Wolf + a Coyote Hybrids are not immediately protected under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA) even though natural hybridization can lead to new species.  A new paper evaluates the genomic ancestry of the Eastern Wolf (Canis lycaon) and the Red Wolf (Canis rufus), both thought to have admixed ancestry…

Human Scrambled Wildlife Populations

Last week I was at a conference on the genomics of admixed populations. What is admixture? Admixture is a within species process that occurs when two (or more) populations that previously diverged come back into contact and mate. Thus the offspring have genetic signatures from the original populations. A particularly engaging session at the meeting…