DNA from dioramas

Charging leopard. Image by Rute Martins of Leoa's Photography (www.leoa.co.za), licensed under Creative Commons 3.0

Charging leopard. Image by Rute Martins of Leoa’s Photography (www.leoa.co.za), licensed under Creative Commons 3.0

Dr Evon Hekalla of Fordham University is planning a project to use DNA from the specimens contained in the American Museum of Natural History to compare conditions in the Congo a century ago with those now. As Dr Hekalla says,

The specimens housed in the American Museum of Natural History’s public displays contain valuable biological data from which we can derive data on conditions occurring a century ago while educating the public about critical factors impacting global biodiversity.

The project will involve using genomics (sequencing the entire DNA within a cell) to analyse the DNA of approximately 300 specimens from 6 species, including vervet monkeys, leopards, and pangolin. This will allow the researchers to compare current living systems in the Congo to those same

Vervet monkey. Image by Xlandfair, in public domain

Vervet monkey. Image by Xlandfair, in public domain

systems 100 years ago. There will be some lessons learned here about how change impacts biodiversity, that will help guide future science and future policy.

I mentioned in a previous post that funding for science is nowhere near the luxurious levels imagined by climate change deniers. You can see this from the project website – and even though the cost of this project is low, Dr Hekalla needs to raise the funds herself, and has little time to do it.

So if you’d like to contribute a little to the cause of biodiversity science, you know what to do – and you’ll get a nice warm glow from knowing that you’ve helped a cause that can affect our living world.

H/t to Big Bad Bald Bastard for alerting me to the site.

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2 Responses to DNA from dioramas

  1. Big Bad Bald Bastard says:

    Thanks for getting the word out, Alison!

  2. Alison Jobling says:

    No worries, B^4 – let’s hope it’s done some good.

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