Conservation genetics is the field that seeks to use DNA to study and protect the living world and its biodiversity. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the leading international conservation body, recognizes the crucial need to conserve genetic diversity as one of the three fundamental levels of biodiversity.
The main goal of this course is to introduce students to the different methods that conservation geneticists use to preserve biodiversity. This includes how DNA sequencing and fingerprinting techniques can be used to determine species distribution patterns, to identify products made from endangered animals, and to propagate endangered species in captivity. The students then learn how scientists and governments can use this information to allocate limited conservation dollars where they are most needed. By the end of the course, students write grant proposals for their own conservation projects, which they then present to the class.
In this course, students explore a cutting edge methodology that has helped scientists all over the world identify and study biodiversity: DNA barcoding. This scientific methodology can be applied to explore and answer a great diversity of questions: Does the leather used to make this purse, belt, or wallet come from an endangered, illegally harvested species? Does the bug I found in my room cause health problems? Are the plants growing in my backyard native or invasive species? Students in this course have the opportunity to participate in hands-on labs to learn the basics of DNA barcoding. They also learn basic concepts in ecology, biodiversity, and conservation biology.
[There are no courses scheduled at this time. Please check back in January 2019.]