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Wide interest in species conservation is young. To many it began early in 1903 when Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir set up a camp under the Grizzly Giant in the Mariposa Grove of California's Yosemite Valley. Over three days they decided to broaden the US National Park footprint across the USA. Conservationists were inspired in the coming decades by the writings of wildlife conservation pioneers—Osa Johnson (I Married Adventure), Karen Blixen (Out of Africa) and Rachel Carson (The Silent Spring). Countless crusaders developed a passion for preserving dwindling species in those early days, yet none of these conservation advocates mentioned the word genetics, let alone genomics. The genome sequencing projects that have followed on from these have brought in an enormous amount of data, including whole genome sequences for thousands of non-human species, both individual and population wide. This huge resource has revolutionized conservation genetics, bringing in ways to assess the health of at-risk populations, devise genetic-driven breeding strategies, and other means to attempt to preserve the over 1 million species (and growing) under threat today.


This commentary is part of a series to celebrate a Decade of GigaScience, to coincide with the 10th anniversary of our launch in July 2012. These papers take a look back at 10 years of advances in large-scale research as open science has become mainstream. To encourage the use of large-scale genomics data for conservation and increase learning opportunities for women in science from a wide of range of countries, GigaScience has been sponsoring young female students from low income countries to attend the international ConGen: Conservation Genetics, Population Genomics, and Molecular Ecology course since 2016.

See more on our sponsoring of ConGen here:

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.







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