This presentation will review some aspects of the use of
Bioinformatics Tools in the Field of Conservation Biology.
First, let's define Conservation Biology.
Conservation Biology, which is sometimes also known as Biological Conservation is a field
of scientific study whose practitioners seek to
understand patterns of existing biodiversity,
and how the processes that generate and maintain
biodiversity are influenced by human environmental impacts,
and then use this knowledge to properly manage biological resources to
allow their sustainable use by humans in a way that conserves that biodiversity.
Now, Conservation Biology as a whole,
is a multidisciplinary field.
One sub-discipline of the field relevant to bioinformatics is conservation genetics,
which is the application of genetic concepts and tools to the study and
conservation of genetic biodiversity in the context of anthropogenic change.
Bioinformatics Tools, many of which are computer programs to analyze
genetic data like DNA and protein sequences have become essential tools for this work.
Here are some examples of conservation issues that commonly need to be addressed,
and that require the use of bioinformatics.
These include measuring the genetic diversity that exists within populations,
identification and quantification of
genetic differences among populations of the same species.
This is done to determine if the populations represent sufficiently divergent gene pools,
which need to be managed separately as unique evolutionary entities,
which are also known as evolutionarily significant units or ESUs.
Resolving all too common taxonomic uncertainties,
including identification of cryptic species.
After all, you cannot manage and conserve species that you don't know even exists.
Determining if protected and threatened species are being exploited illegally for trade.
A practice that is also disturbingly common
and can lead to species and population extinction.
Let's now look at the basic steps involved in using genetic data in conservation studies.