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…

Bandicoots, the little marsupial diggers

  Bandicoots are fascinating creatures, but I suspect few people outside Australia and New Guinea have ever heard of them, well, unless you count Crash Bandicoot… They are probably best known in suburban Australia for infuriating gardeners with the conical pits, or “snout-pokes”, they dig whilst foraging for their food, which varies a little among species but usually includes fungi,…

Eavesdropping on Elephants

I’ve made it no secret that forest elephants are hidden giants, concealed by the vast canopy cover of Central African forests. To study them, one has to get creative. For me, it was collecting dung. For Dr. Peter Wrege, it’s sound. Wrege’s background is cemented in bird behavior, but for the past decade he has been heading…

Behind the paper: using DNA to define conservation units for endangered dragons

This week, we have a new paper published online in the journal Conservation Genetics, with former Honours student Emma Carlson as lead author. The paper is titled “How many conservation units are there for the endangered grassland earless dragons?” Yes, that’s right, dragons! But not the fire-breathing sort. The grassland earless dragon (Tympanocyrptis pinguicolla) is a…

What We’re Reading: Jan 29, 2016

Improving morphological diet studies with molecular ecology I’m sure you all know by now that many wildlife species are threatened by invasive predators. Diet studies are often used to understand the specific impacts of predators, to guide management actions. Traditionally, this has meant sorting through scats and gut contents to identify as many prey remains as possible. Of…