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Gene Drive: A Potential Power-Tool for the Toolbox

A Potential Power-Tool for the Toolbox: Exploring Gene Drive for Eradicating Invasive Rodent Populations

An international conference focused on the impacts and management of invasive alien species on islands is taking place at University of Dundee, Scotland July 10-14. In anticipation of this event, we’re sharing research that will be presented by experts in the field. For more information or to register, visit the conference website

Invasive rodents have significant negative impacts on island biodiversity, human health and food security. Projects to remove invasive rodents from islands are very complex and challenging. Current tools available for conservation intervention restrict professionals to a suite of islands home to less than 15% of the Critically Endangered and Endangered island species that need protection.

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Many island species around the world such as this Juan Fernandez Firecrown are threatened with extinction, but new technology could help us protect these species. Credit: Island Conservation

However, a new technology could boost the percentage of islands where intervention is feasible. The Genetic Biocontrol of Invasive Rodents (GBIRd) partnership is collaboratively developing and evaluating gene-drive technology for rodents. The partnership is engaged in research to find out if gene drives could influence a mouse population to self-eliminate by becoming 100% male or 100% female.

Highly cost-effective and socially acceptable new eradication tools could produce substantial biodiversity, human health and food security benefits. The opportunity that this transformative technology may bring to invasive species management is significant and worthy of exploring in a responsible and inclusive manner.

Featured photo: Palmyra Atoll. Credit: Coral Wolf/Island Conservation

About Karl Campbell

Karl has more than fifteen years of island restoration experience and has served as field manager of the world’s two largest island restoration projects on Isabela and Santiago Islands. He is experienced in planning, budgeting, and implementing large-scale projects and leveraging technology to increase their cost-efficiency. Advanced restoration expertise combined with his management skills make him invaluable in island conservation projects.

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