What We’re Reading- Sept 8, 2017

Pro-Active Management of Genetic Diversity This paper quantified changes in genetic diversity in an experimental translocation of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) into four isolated populations from a single source population.  The authors found that translocating 10 fish into the experimental populations significantly increased allelic richness and heterozygosity in the first generation following translocation.  They also…

What We’re Reading- June 16, 2017

Ectotherms and Climate Change Ectotherms regulate their body temperature using external heat sources; for example, turtles bask in the sun or on hot rocks to warm up, then retreat to the shade when they become over heated.  Increasing temperatures due to climate change are expected to have physiological effects on animals and plants.  Heat shock…

FWS Gives Conservation Scientists a To Do List

The US Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced that they were changing how they prioritized species to be listed as threatened or endangered of extinction under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  (Here’s the final rule in the Federal Register- 81 FR 49248).  The Service claims that changing how 90-day petitions and 12-month status reviews are…

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…

Charismatic Megafauna Conservation vs Charismatic Megafauna Conservation

Prioritizing research efforts and on-the-ground action is essential for conservation, but also incredibly hard.  There’s plenty of debate about how best to set conservation priorities: save everything, triage/mathematical formulas for decisions, how to weigh expert opinion and societal values, etc.  Since conservation decisions can have real consequences for protecting species (and local human communities and…

What We’re Reading: July 1, 2016

Inbreeding Shortens Female Life-Span A new paper (open) investigated how life span differs between male and female fruit flies if they belonged to an inbred or normal population.  In the normal (aka- outbred) population, females lived longer than males; but in the inbred population, males and females lived the same length of time.  Given that…

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…

When Science meets Parliament

Last week I had the privilege of spending two days at the 16th “Science meets Parliament”. It was an eye opening experience and I’ve learnt a lot… but let me explain… Science meets Parliament is an annual event run by Science and Technology Australia (STA), the peak body representing Australian science and technology. It includes…

Rewilding: restoring lost species to save ecosystems

At first they were just shadows, dark impressions glimpsed through the mist. Is that really…? Could it be…? As we moved a little closer one of them turned to the east, to face the rising sun. His profile was unmistakable, the curved horns and humped shoulders proclaiming “bison”! And not just any bison, but free-ranging European bison, grazing…

Let’s not forget the scaly, slimy and spineless on Threatened Species Day

September 7th marks the anniversary of a spectacular failure in Australian wildlife conservation. On this day in 1936, the last known thylacine, the largest marsupial carnivore and the only member of the family Thylacinidae, died in captivity in a Hobart zoo. Today, this day is recognised (I cannot bring myself to write “celebrated”) as Threatened…