Crowdsourcing ConGen

Conservation genetics provides essential information for the management and protection of species and ecosystems. Despite it wide applicability and concrete, quantifiable output, very few people in management and policy making positions, as well as in the general public, understand what conservation genetics is and how it can be used. Concepts like F-statistics, effective harmonic population size, the coalescent, along with a host of complex and convoluted equations tend to make the literature impenetrable. Add to that an ever changing host of molecular markers – allozymes, AFLPs,RFLPs, SNPs, microsatellites, mtDNA, 28s, and others – each with their own methods, assumptions, and caveats, and the field becomes almost unapproachable, even to other geneticists.

This is a problem. This is a huge problem because the whole purpose of conservation genetics is to inform management practices and conservation goals. If the average manager can’t understand conservation genetics data, what’s the point?

So this is my goal for the next year or so. To produce what is essentially a guide to understanding conservation genetics for someone coming from a non-science background. But I’m not crazy enough to assume that I can produce something like that on my own. This is where you come in.

Crowdsourcing is the process of opening up a resource to a community for input and contributions. Throughout the coming year I’ll be posting manageable pieces of this document for the audience of Southern Fried Science to read and review. If you are knowledgeable about conservation or population genetics, I’d love all your input, but I’m much more interested in those who are not. I’ve always been an adherent to the axiom that if a reader doesn’t understand something, it’s usually the writer’s fault. I want to know where things are not clear, where they are too technical or too simplified, where you get lost in the text and where you need more information before you continue. My goal is for this project to produce a document that is accurate, clear, concise, and approachable.

Keep watching this post for updates regarding the project, and check back every few weeks for the next installment of Crowdsourcing ConGen.

  1. The Conservation Context in Population Genetics, Part 1
  2. Crowdsourcing ConGen – Populations in Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium
  3. Crowdsourcing ConGen – Effective size of a population in flux
  4. Crowdsourcing ConGen – A Reading List

~Southern Fried Scientist

February 12, 2010 • 8:15 am