1. Galápagos tortoises
Molecular genetics offers conservation biologists critical information upon which to design efficient, effective management strategies. Galápagos tortoises are flagships in this respect, because captive breeding programs have been largely facilitated by genetic tools. I am involved in a project aimed at identifying wild hybrids (i.e., individuals resulting from mating between two different Galápagos tortoise species) that carry genes of the rarest species in the world (Chelonoidis abingdoni, represented by a single living individual, Lonesome George), as well those with genes from a recently extinct species (C. elephantopus, 150 years ago). This work will be used to guide a captive breeding program aimed at rescuing from extinction unique evolutionary lineages.
Collaborating labs: Gisella Caccone
(Yale Univ.), Mike Russello
(Univ. British Columbia), James Gibbs
Selected publications: Garrick et al. (2012) Curr. Biol.
, Benavides et al. (2012) Zoo Biol.