Scheme: Wolfson Research Merit Awards
Organisation: Cardiff University
Dates: Jan 2012-Dec 2016
Summary: My research focuses on how we can use genome data to help conserve endangered species more effectively. Biodiversity is the variety of life on earth, comprising ecosystems, species and genomes. Ecosystems and species have been the focus of conservation efforts, especially via legislation such as the Convention on Biological Diversity. Genomic diversity has received much less attention, partly because the science is so new and partly because the assumption has been made that “if you look after the species, the genomes will look after themselves”. However, as a result of human environmental damage species are often now found in small, fragmented and isolated habitats in a world where the climate is changing and they cannot simply disperse into a new location because their route is blocked by roads, cities and agriculture. This means that some species will have to adapt where they are, regardless of how unsuitable it may be. To adapt, genetic diversity is very important and this is where my science of conservation genomics becomes relevant. To enable populations of species of adapt to future change, we must therefore manage their genomes. This includes making sure they do not become inbred, protecting their genomes from being swamped by invasive species (a form of ‘genetic erosion’), identifying populations with the most genetic diversity and unique genes to prioritize for conservation and identifying those genes that are important to the adaptations needed to survive. Genomics gives us new and powerful tools to help identify these genes, detect ‘genetic erosion’ and keep populations genetically diverse. I focus on both wild and domestic species that have high conservation (e.g. giant pandas), cultural (e.g. falcons) and socio-economic (e.g. livestock) value, and my genome research is helping to transform the way these species are being sustainably managed now and hopefully into the future.
Scheme: International Incoming Fellowships
Dates: Sep 2008-Aug 2009
Summary: This project summary is not available for publication.
Dates: Nov 2004-Jun 2005