Turtles in Trouble

Posted in Turtle Research, Education and Outreach on Jun 22, 2020

Fifty-one international experts today published the most comprehensive study of the extinction risks for turtles and tortoises in Current Biology. Turtles are in trouble. More than half of all 360 turtle and tortoise species face imminent extinction if current trends continue. Australian turtles feature prominently in the list of species of greatest concern.

Piku Biodiversity Network launches

Posted in Turtle Research on Jul 24, 2019

An exciting new NGO has emerged from the Piku program that has operated out of the University of Canberra since 2006. The new NGO is called the Piku Biodiversity Network Incorporated or PBN for short. Its purpose is to promote and enable biodiversity conservation in Papua New Guinea through environmental education, community-led conservation and knowledge generation.

Waking the sleeping dragon

Posted in Pogona Research on Jun 17, 2019

Those of you watching *The Desolation of Smaug* closely might have been surprised to see how quickly Smaug arose from his slumber when disturbed by Bilbo the Burglar. How is it that dragons can arouse so quickly if disturbed during hibernation? We might have the answer in our latest paper in BMC Genomics.

New Guinea -- Last bastion against Chytrid

Posted in Uncategorized on Jun 03, 2019

Earth’s sixth major mass extinction event has begun and amphibians in particular are in peril; over 40% of amphibian species are threatened with extinction. One agent in their demise is chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, responsible for the most widespread, disease-induced declines and extinctions in vertebrates to date. New Guinea is the world’s largest tropical island and the last major center of amphibian biodiversity free from chytrid. Deb Bower, Simon Clulow and their colleagues call for urgent, unified, international, multidisciplinary action to prepare for the arrival of chytrid in New Guinea, to prevent or slow its spread within the island after it arrives, and to limit its impact upon the island’s frog populations.

mtGenomes resolve longstanding issues in turtle taxonomy

Posted in Turtle Research on Apr 09, 2019

Who would have thought you could pull DNA from historical museum specimens dating back to 1796 and sequence it? In a paper that came out today in Scientific Reports we use whole mitochondrial sequences from living populations and assembly of fragments of DNA from museum type specimens to bring the two together and solve some longstanding taxonomic enigmas.

Population Genomics in R -- 2019 Workshop

Posted in Education and Outreach on Apr 04, 2019

Publications addressing population genetics using single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are on the rise, indeed exponentially on the rise. If you are interested in analysing SNP data to answer that pressing PopGen question, there is an upcoming workshop that might be of interest to you. It is in Hobart (Australia) in April of 2019. You can express early-bird interest in attending by reading on and clicking the relevant link.

Representational genome sequencing for bacterial pathogen identification

Posted in Uncategorized on Mar 27, 2019

Bacterial identification methods used in routine identification of pathogens in medical microbiology can include a combination of biochemical tests, mass spectrometry, barcode sequencing (16S) or whole genome sequencing. in a paper that came out today in the Journal of Microbial Methods, PhD student Berenice Talamantes explores the utility of reduced representation sequencing for the identification of bacterial pathogens. She has also applied the technique to environmental microbes in work yet to appear.

Hemiclonal Gudgeons -- for those who thought sex was simple

Posted in Uncategorized on Mar 19, 2019

In a paper that appeared this week in Scientific Reports, Peter Unmack and his colleagues describe work on a hemiclonal 'ghost' lineage of gudgeons from south eastern Australia. They identified a vulnerable sexual population of gudgeons that is involved in two hemiclonal lineages, and provide perspectives on several important issues not previously explored by other studies on ghost species, but relevant to their detection, conservation, and artificial recreation.

SNPs Breathe New Life into Species Delimitation of a difficult Taxon

Posted in Turtle Research on Dec 15, 2018

In a recent paper in Molecular Ecology on species delimitation, we invoke the age-old criterion of diagnosability to identify lineages that are candidates as name-bearing taxa. For SNP markers, fixed allelic differences between populations or metapopulations provide diagnosability. We apply these markers to a case study of a freshwater turtle, Emyduro macquorii, whose systematics has so far defied resolution, to bring to light a dynamic system of substantive allopatric lineages diverging on independent evolutionary trajectories, but held back in the process of speciation by low level and episodic exchange of alleles across drainage divides on various timescales.

Australian Turtle on the Brink

Posted in Turtle Research on Nov 30, 2018

The Bellinger River Sawshell, *Myuchelys georgesi*, is facing some serious challenges. In an article that appeared this week in the journal Endangered Species Research, we report the disturbing observation that the endangered endemic *Myuchelys georgesi* is hybridizing in the wild with the locally introduced *Emydura macquarii*, which threatens Its very existence.

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