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  • A comparative genomics multitool for scientific discovery and conservation

    Genereux, Diane P.; Serres, Aitor; Armstrong, Joel; Johnson, Jeremy; Marinescu, Voichita D.; Murén, Eva; Juan, David; Bejerano, Gill; Casewell, Nicholas R.; Chemnick, Leona G.; et al. (2020)
    The Zoonomia Project is investigating the genomics of shared and specialized traits in eutherian mammals. Here we provide genome assemblies for 131 species, of which all but 9 are previously uncharacterized, and describe a whole-genome alignment of 240 species of considerable phylogenetic diversity, comprising representatives from more than 80% of mammalian families. We find that regions of reduced genetic diversity are more abundant in species at a high risk of extinction, discern signals of evolutionary selection at high resolution and provide insights from individual reference genomes. By prioritizing phylogenetic diversity and making data available quickly and without restriction, the Zoonomia Project aims to support biological discovery, medical research and the conservation of biodiversity.
  • Insights for reducing the consumption of wildlife: The use of bear bile and gallbladder in Cambodia

    Davis, Elizabeth Oneita; Veríssimo, Diogo; Crudge, Brian; Lim, Thona; Roth, Vichet; Glikman, Jenny A. (2020)
    Unsustainable wildlife use is one of the leading threats to earth's biodiversity. Historically, efforts to address this issue have been focused on increasing enforcement and anti-poaching measures. However, recognition that such supply-reduction measures may be inefficient has spurred a movement towards consumer research and behaviour change. Here, we used consumer research to investigate the consumption of bear bile and gallbladder in Cambodia. Our aim was to gather key consumer insights such as demographics, beliefs and the identification of trusted individuals and communication channels, which could be used to underpin future behaviour change efforts to reduce the consumption of bear bile and gallbladder. To accomplish this, we conducted 4,512 structured quantitative interviews and 132 qualitative, semi-structured interviews across Cambodia. We found that although the level of bear bile and gallbladder consumption varied across the country, consumers were largely homogenous in their beliefs and choice of trusted messengers. This indicates that behaviour change interventions grounded in these results may be effective in any of the eight areas surveyed. We believe our study strategy can be adapted and followed by other conservation organizations to ensure they are capturing essential information necessary for designing effective behaviour change campaigns. A free Plain Language Summary can be found within the Supporting Information of this article.
  • Usage, definition, and measurement of coexistence, tolerance and acceptance in wildlife conservation research in Africa

    Knox, Jillian; Ruppert, Kirstie; Frank, Beatrice; Sponarski, Carly C.; Glikman, Jenny A. (2021)
    The terms ‘coexistence’, ‘tolerance,’ and ‘acceptance’ appear frequently in conservation literature, but lack consistent characterization, making them difficult to apply across intervention frameworks. This review aims to describe the common characterizations of these three terms using Africa-based research as a case study….
  • Mixing genetically differentiated populations successfully boosts diversity of an endangered carnivore

    McLennan, E. A.; Grueber, Catherine E.; Wise, P.; Belov, K.; Hogg, Carolyn J. (2020)
    …We used an introduced population of Tasmanian devils Sarcophilus harrisii descended from two genetically differentiated source populations to illustrate the benefits of genetic admixture for translocation programmes. Devils are endangered due to an infectious cancer causing 80% population declines across their range since disease emergence in 1996…. As part of their conservation management, devils were introduced to Maria Island, Tasmania in an assisted colonization in 2012 with supplementations in 2013 and 2017….
  • Preference assessments as a tool to evaluate environmental enrichment

    Woods, Jocelyn M.; Lane, Erin K.; Miller, Lance J. (2020)
    …Ten-minute free operant, paired-choice preference assessments were implemented in Study 1 to determine the enrichment preferences of African lions (N = 3). Following Study 1, Study 2 was conducted, which examined the behavior of African lions with enrichment items over the course of 30, 24-hr trials to evaluate the relationship between preferences established in Study 1 and long-term interaction with the enrichment….

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