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Center for Conservation Genomics News

Sequencing a Honeycreeper

December 23, 2014

For the first time, SCBI geneticists have sequenced the genome of a vertebrate: A Hawaiian honeycreeper

Recent News

Scientists offer new insights for protecting India's tiger populations

December 05, 2014

Researchers have learned that despite strong global support for tiger conservation, the survival of the species continues to be threatened. Habitat loss, poaching and isolation are all factors leading to population decline, but a team of scientists, including Robert Fleischer and Jesus Maldonado from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and Bibek Yumnam and Yadvendradev Jhala of the Wildlife Institute of India, is working towards understanding limitations and enhancing the current conservation system.

SCBI Studies Show Habitat Fragmentation Affects Gene Flow in India’s Leopard and Tiger Populations

July 31, 2013

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute scientists analyzed the genes of these great cats in the Satpura-Maikal landscape—a 15,000 square kilometers area composed of four interconnected reserves: Kanha, Satpura, Melghat and Pench. From April-June 2009 and November 2009-May 2010, they collected scat (fecal matter) and hair samples for DNA analysis. This data, combined with India’s forest ecology history, enabled SCBI scientists to construct a definitive picture of how habitat loss affects the genetic diversity and gene flow of cat populations. Published in Evolutionary Applications and Proceedings of the Royal Society B, their research demonstrates that an intact forest corridor is vital for maintaining gene flow in these great cats.

New Genetics Research on Leopards and Tigers in India Underscores the Importance of Protecting Forest Corridors

January 14, 2013

As rapid economic expansion continues to shape the Asian landscape on which many species depend, time is running out for conservationists aiming to save wildlife such as tigers and leopards. Scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute have used genetic analysis to find that the natural forest corridors in India are essential to ensuring a future for these species. According to two studies recently published in two papers, these corridors are successfully connecting populations of tigers and leopards to ensure genetic diversity and gene flow.

Today’s Domestic Turkeys Are Genetically Distinct from Wild Ancestors, SCBI Researchers and Collaborators Find

November 19, 2012

Very few Americans know much about the difference between their gravy-smothered poultry and the poultry that earlier generations of Americans ate to celebrate the holiday.

Smithsonian Scientists Find Female Coatis Help Offspring of Other Females

May 22, 2012

Unexpected Result Challenges Understanding of the role of kinship in mammals.

Smithsonian Researchers Use Non-Invasive Techniques to Look at Genetic Diversity in Leopards from a Distance

April 18, 2012

Researchers at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute have spent years developing genetic techniques that use more easily acquired samples, and their latest success uses scat, or feces, collected from wild leopards living in the highlands of India.

Human-Modified Habitats Shape Bird Mating Patterns

April 13, 2012

A new study suggests that changes by people in suburban environments can affect the number of breeding pairs, their selection of a mate and even shape how a species evolves.

Roche Supports the Smithsonian’s National Zoo with Next-Generation Sequencing Instrument for Animal Conservation Research

February 8, 2012

Roche and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, DC announced today a collaboration agreement to use Roche’s GS Junior benchtop sequencing system for research in SCBI’s Center for Conservation Genomics.

October 2011

New Genetic Evidence Confirms Coyote Migration Route to Virginia and Hybridization with Wolves

Researchers used DNA from coyote scat (feces) to trace the route that led some of the animals to colonize in Northern Virginia. The researchers also confirmed that, along the way, the coyotes interbred with the native Great Lakes wolves. Learn more

Scientists Determine Family Tree for Most-Endangered Bird Family in the World

Using one of the largest DNA data sets for a group of birds and employing next-generation sequencing methods, Smithsonian scientists and collaborators have determined the evolutionary family tree for one of the most strikingly diverse and endangered bird families in the world, the Hawaiian honeycreepers. Learn more

SCBI Scientists Confirm New Species of Seabird Discovered in the Hawaiian Islands

For the first time in decades, researchers have found a new bird species in the United States. Based on a specimen collected in 1963 on Midway Atoll, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, biologists have described a new species of seabird, Bryan’s shearwater (Puffinus bryani), according to differences in measurements and physical appearance compared to other species of shearwaters. Learn more

Endangered River Turtle's Genes Reveal Ancient Influence of Maya Indians

A genetic study focusing on the Central American river turtle (Dermatemys mawii) recently turned up surprising results for scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and collaborators involved in the conservation of this critically endangered species. Learn more

January 2011

National Elephant Herpesvirus Laboratory


Researchers at Smithsonian’s National Zoo were the first to identify and are the world leaders in research on the elephant herpesvirus, which threatens elephant populations worldwide. Elephants in captivity and in the wild are affected by this condition, which has been responsible for about half of the deaths of young elephants in zoos. Scientists are working hard to understand elephant herpesvirus, learn more about how it is passed among elephants, develop and improve treatments, and find a vaccine. Learn more.


September 2010

Tailing Golden Lion Tamarins

  SCBI population biologists use state-of-the-art techniques to monitor the progress and genetics of golden lion tamarins reintroduced into the Atlantic coastal forest of Brazil.

Researchers Find Unexpected Genetic Differences between Magnificent Frigatebirds in the Galapagos Islands and on the Mainland

  Although the magnificent frigatebird may be the least likely animal on the Galapagos Islands to be unique to the area, it turns out the Galapagos population of this tropical seabird may be its own genetically distinct species warranting a new conservation status, according to a new paper by researchers.

June 2010

New Genetics Laboratory Building Opens

  The Center for Conservation Genomics has moved into a newly renovated laboratory. The new facility will enable them to expand and deepen their research pursuits.

Scientists Look to Genetics to Help Elephants Ward off Disease


SCBI researchers worked with the Zoo's Asian elephants—Shanthi, Ambika, and Kandula—to learn more about the elephant immune system. Their research is helping them begin to think of new ways to protect elephants' health—both in zoos and in the wild from diseases that are devastating the world's elephant population. Learn more.