Scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Center for Conservation Genomics (CCG) creatively apply genetic theory and methods to gain knowledge about the evolutionary and life histories of animals, to understand the importance of genetic variation to their survival, and to identify methods needed to sustain them in human care and in the wild.
CCG researchers specialize in genetic management of wild and populations in human care, genomics, non-invasive DNA, ancient DNA, systematics, disease diagnosis and dynamics, genetic service to the zoo community, and applications of genetic methods to animal behavior and ecology. CCG scientists collaborate extensively with other scientists across Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, as well as across the Smithsonian Institute, and with other institutions and agencies worldwide. These interdisciplinary partnerships have developed important synergies in biodiversity conservation that would not be otherwise possible.
Research approaches and applications include:
- Genetic management of wild and zoo populations – providing service to zoo and conservation communities by reconstructing and analyzing pedigrees, and assessing genetic variability, inbreeding and adaptation to living in human care.
- Genomic and next generation sequencing methods – developing protocols for the sequencing of genomes and transcriptomes, characterization of genomic variation using reduced representation approaches (e.g., RADtag’s, UCE’s, hybridization capture), and metagenomic or metabarcoding methods.
- Non-invasive DNA – using DNA analysis of scat, hair and other shed items to identify the species, gender, individual, kin and diet of wild animals.
- Ancient DNA - documenting the evolutionary history of extinct species, and assessing genetic variation and diagnosing pathogens in past populations.
- Systematics and defining conservation units – using genomic methods to determine species, subspecies and evolutionary significant units to assist with the management of endangered species.
- Disease diagnosis and dynamics – determining the presence and impacts of emerging infectious diseases in wildlife, and developing ways to mitigate the conservation problems caused by invasive and problematic pathogens.
- Genetic applications to understanding animal behavior and ecology – using genomic methods to estimate relatedness and mating patterns in wild vertebrate populations.
Center for Conservation Genomics | Science Building
Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute
PO BOX 37012 MRC 5503
Washington, DC 20013-7012