Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Conservation genetics in Latin America

A recently published special issue of the Journal of Heredity focuses on case studies of real-world applications of conservation genetics in Latin America, from nabbing parrot smugglers to exposing fraudulent fish sales. The discipline of conservation genetics has been growing for at least four decades. But only relatively recently have genetic techniques such as DNA Barcoding been used not only to understand conservation issues, but to solve those problems as well. The application of such genetic techniques becomes increasingly important in Latin America, where the vast biodiversity is in decline due to an inexorable economic development. 

Latin America has an unusual level of biodiversity, and is also undergoing unprecedented development, making the region of particular conservation concern. But these factors also contribute to the growth of a scientific community able to provide real help, given the right support.

That support began a decade ago with the establishment of La Red de Genética para la Conservacion (ReGeneC). ReGeneC provides an annual intensive course in conservation genetic techniques and applications for South American students and researchers. ReGeneC's work thus far culminated in a conference in Caracas, Venezuela in May 2014; many of the projects presented at the conference became part of the special issue which includes fifteen papers highlighting the use of genetic techniques to address problems in the conservation of Latin American biodiversity, ranging from trees to toads to tamarins:

Enjoy reading.

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