I'm a biologist with interests in genetics, conservation, ecology, invasive species, and wildlife management.
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Click here to read the full post at WildlifeSNPits.
I’m a fan of celebrating conservation success stories and sharing conservation optimism. In fact I’ve written about this before. Today, I want to share some wonderful teaching resources, that also highlight some reasons for hope in wildlife conservation.
A little while back, I asked twitter to recommend short videos about mammal conservation in Australia, to include in lectures I was preparing. I wanted to illustrate some of the things that agencies need to think about when planning management strategies, and share some real examples of conservation actions with the students. Also, including videos of cute animals can make for a much more engaging lecture!
Thanks to some lovely people I was sent links to a lot of interesting material. At the time I said I’d curate the list somewhere to make it easier for people to browse… and here it is. Please scroll down for links to a few videos about wildlife conservation, or with footage of threatened species. At this stage there is a strong focus on Australian mammals, but I’ll try to add links to other resources as I come across them. Feel free to share relevant resources with me… I know there are loads of other videos out there!
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Clink here to read the full post at WildlifeSNPits
As a child I was hooked on wildlife documentaries (I still am…) and from these I gleaned that the career highlight of any self-respecting botanist or zoologist was to discover a new species. For a while that was my goal too, but then I became sidetracked by questions about genetics and evolution and conservation.
Fast forward to the present, to the recent growth in citizen science, bioblitzes and nature apps, where almost anyone with an interest can find some way to contribute to scientific endeavour. I have experienced citizen science from both sides: as a scientist I have greatly appreciated the help of volunteers to collect samples and data; as a citizen I have contributed wildlife photos and sighting reports and helped with wildlife surveys and monitoring projects. All of the pictures I have shared in this post are ones I have recently uploaded to the Canberra Nature Map – I love taking wildlife photos and in addition to contributing to local biodiversity knowledge, the Canberra Nature Map is a great way for me to find out identifications for species I don’t know.
There’s a lot of discussion among scientists at the moment about the effectiveness of citizen science, how to collect reliable data, and how to retain volunteers. Some of this surely comes down to the expectations and experiences of participants. One thing I’ve come to realise (through occasional conversations rather than proper data collection) is just how public perception of science can be skewed, and how this influences the idea of what “doing science” entails. Media fanfare tends to focus more on “big discoveries” in science – like the discovery of new species – and less on the years of routine, mundane, boring, data collection associated with those discoveries. I understand why that happens, but it can be misleading. Those who volunteer on conservation projects usually do so because they want to make a difference, so as scientists we need to make sure that people understand the many different ways in which they can make a difference...
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Click here to read the full post at WildlifeSNPits:
I know a lot of biologists who have lists related to their work: lists of birds they have seen, lists of journals they want to publish in, lists of top wildlife spectacles they want to see, lists of species they have studied, lists of their favourite fieldwork sites.
I too have a few lists, and in writing this post I’m thinking of one list in particular: my list of the most disgusting batches of tissue samples I have ever had the misfortune to extract DNA from. It is a short but memorable list, which, as of this week, stands at four entries. And despite the large number of scat DNA samples I have worked with over the years, there are no faeces on that list!
I thought it was going to be a routine afternoon in the lab. I was planning to take subsamples from some roadkilled mammal ear tissues we had been sent. Roadkills can be a valuable non-invasive source of population genetic information for many species. The procedure goes something like this: take a 2mm subsample of tissue, finely chop it with a scalpel and forceps, and transfer the tissue to a tube with lysis buffer to incubate overnight. I had 48 samples to prepare, so was expecting to spend a couple of hours in the lab, then finish the DNA extractions the next morning.
That was the plan…