About the Blog Author: Dr. Jessica Judson is a postdoctoral researcher at Michigan State University working with Dr. Sarah Fitzpatrick. She recently received her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Iowa State University. She received her BS and MS in Biological Sciences from Mississippi State University. She is broadly interested in population genetics, including understanding the interactions of population dynamics and selection in natural populations of ectothermic vertebrates and their effects on genomic architecture. Follow Jessica on Twitter @jjudson28.
Conservation biology can often be a depressing endeavor. The thematic element in almost every talk and poster given at this year’s AGA 2021 President’s Symposium was no exception: there are so many threatened populations, species, and habitats on our fragile planet, and so little time. And not to mention, so few conservation biologists. Indeed, the people filling the conference room in Snowbird, Utah represent a large number of the scientists who use genetic and genomic tools to address conservation concerns. The work of these people is innovative and inspiring, but I couldn’t help wondering what brings us hope. We, perhaps very rightfully, focus our attention on the critical cases where intervention is crucial to save a species. Yet we rarely get to hear stories of hope in conservation.
At the meeting, I decided to ask a handful of attendees and presenters one simple question: “What is your favorite conservation story?”. The answers were varied, but the consistent observation was that it was a difficult question. The reasons for this also varied, including that the stories and species they loved were not quite optimistic, that they couldn’t narrow down to one species, or that they hadn’t really thought about it. And to be honest, I also had trouble narrowing down my favorite story despite being the one asking the question. There were even some people who needed time to think about it, and I was not able to track them down again. However, I did receive answers from many in-person attendees, and I would like to share them with you as a reminder to dedicate some thought to the successful conservation stories that are ultimately why we do what we do. I also want to note that I am paraphrasing responses I received. Where I was able, I have added a link to a news article associated with the mentioned story.
Dr. Kelly Zamudio, President of AGA 2021
Skin microbiome research in amphibians as a way of preventing and treating disease, specifically chytridiomycosis
Dr. Sarah Fitzpatrick
Genetic rescue of the Florida panther
Dr. Cinnamon Mittan
Texas blind salamander and the water conservation initiatives in San Antonio
Long-toed salamander captive breeding program
Dr. Jose Lopez
The preservation of Florida corals from the stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) through removal from the wild and lab-rearing
Dr. Mariah Meek
Yellowstone grizzly bears
Dr. J. Andrew DeWoody
The bald eagle, because as Andrew said, we are the American Genetic Association
Dr. Fredric Janzen
Translocation and reintroduction of tuatara, the actions taken to prevent spread of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans
Dr. Phred Benham
The regulation of DDT
Dr. Samarth Mathur
The Revive and Restore program
Dr. Tolulope Perrin-Stowe
Reintroduction and translocation of golden lion tamarins
Boston Harbor clean-up
As for myself, I am partial to the conservation success of the California condor.
What is your favorite conservation story? Tweet your responses and tag @theAGA_org!