Islands and Alleles: How genetics can help protect endangered species

When talking about diversity in the natural world, we often think of the bright colors and bold patterns of fish gliding among a reef, or the variety of flying, creeping, and crawling critters found in the layers of a rainforest canopy. However, diversity even within a single species is an important indicator of a population’s health and stability. This type of diversity can be invisible to us when contained in the form of genes that control which traits organisms possess. In this study, scientists helped us to see the invisible diversity of an endangered skink and learn how to more effectively conserve this diversity.

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Using Genetics to Inform Conservation: Spring-Run Chinook Salmon in the Klamath-Trinity River Basin

The same species of Chinook salmon in the Klamath-Trinity basin return to the river each year in two groups: the fall-run and the spring-run. Spring-run Chinook in the Klamath River have drastically declined from historical levels, and are at much lower abundances than fall-run Chinook there. A key genetic difference between these two runs may determine how they are protected (and hopefully restored) under the Endangered Species Act. Read on to learn more!

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Genetics and bee conservation: telling the full story of a species’ decline

We’ve all probably watched bees engage in pollination as they move from flower to flower collecting pollen. This process is essential to the reproduction of many plants, including crops. When most people think of pollinators, they think of the honey bee (Apis mellifera). However, more than 20,000 species of bees have been described—all of which are pollinators! In fact, honey bees are actually native to southeast Asia and have spread across the globe due to human activities, potentially competing with other bees. Despite the honey bee’s ubiquity and popularity, native bees are important pollinators because ecological adaptations that differ from those of honey bees. For example, the tongues of many native bees such as bumble bees can reach the nectar of longer flowers for pollination better than the honey bee.

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Why YY Males? Using Hatchery Brook Trout to Eliminate an Invasive Species

Brook Trout were first introduced to the American West in the early 1900s. Since then, they have hurt native fish populations through competition and predation. In this study, scientists examine the effectiveness of using genetic technology to shift the ratio of male to female Brook Trout in the wild, which could eventually help remove them from their non-native streams.

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