YaleEnvironment360 covers the unknowns and opportunities presented by genetic engineering in the field of conservation.
Gene drive opens up new opportunities in many different fields. In a recent article in YaleEnvironment360, award-winning writer Richard Conniff delves into a potential application of gene drive for conservation. Gene drive could help conservationists prevent extinctions of seabirds and island species.
Invasive rodents have significant negative impacts on island biodiversity. 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.
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. Island Conservation Director of Communications Heath Packard said:
We are committed to a precautionary step-wise approach, with plenty of off-ramps, if it turns out to be too risky or not ethical.
Research is under way, though implementation would not be expected to take place for about ten years. Dr. Kent Redford, conservation consultant and research scientist said:
[With…changes taking place all around them,] Conservationists absolutely must engage with the synthetic biology community, and if we don’t do so it will be at our peril.
- Choros Island, Chile: Before and After Restoration - April 24, 2018
- Finn: The Wonder Dog that Traveled to Chile and Saved the Humboldt Penguins - April 23, 2018
- Do Bird-eating Mice Pose a Danger to Wisdom the Albatross? - April 18, 2018
- Protecting the Seabirds of Midway Atoll - April 18, 2018
- Rare Image Captured of Critically Endangered Mascarene Petrel - April 13, 2018
- Mother Nature Network Features Finn the Wonder Dog - April 11, 2018
- Rat-Detecting Dogs Join Lehua Island Restoration Project Partnership; Localized Treatments Continue After a few Rats Caught on Camera - April 9, 2018
- Scientific Assessment Highlights Biodiversity Conservation - March 26, 2018
- Draft Environmental Assessment Released for Midway Seabird Protection Project - March 22, 2018
- Antipodes Island: One of the most complex island eradication projects ever declared a success - March 20, 2018