Blood, Tissue, Hides and Bones: Using Conservation Genomics to Inform the Reintroduction of Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs

Thursday, November 9, 2017
Event Time: 
6:00 pm
Borderlands Brewery
Alex Erwin, PhD student, Genetics

Environmental conservation encompasses a wide range of concerns, from preventing epidemics to establishing sustainable water sources, from animal conservation to predicting climate change. In this series four Carson scholars will examine how genomics, entomology, photovoltaics, and citizen science can be used to address the wide breadth of environmental challenges that our world faces today.

Scientists can now use DNA from wild animal populations to help manage rare or threatened species for future persistence.  I will explain just how conservation geneticists like myself go from taking samples in the field to producing data to inform management and policy.  I will specifically use my work with black-tailed prairie dogs as an example.  I use blood, tissue, hair, bones, and even 19th century hides to extract black-tailed prairie dog DNA.  By extracting and sequencing portions of this DNA, we are informing managers how best to proceed with the reintroduction of the black-tailed prairie dog back into Arizona.  Black-tailed prairie dogs are keystone species that maintain grasslands and provide habitat for a myriad of other species.