• Question: Have you ever worked with an endangered species?

    Asked by anon-302454 on 30 Nov 2021.
    • Photo: Kes Scott-Somme

      Kes Scott-Somme answered on 30 Nov 2021:

      Yes! I have worked with several, mostly different species of sea turtle, although my favourite endangered animal is the European eel, an animal we know very little about and the only commercially exploited (legally sold on a mass scale) critically endangered animal I know of. Working with an endangered animal can be very sad, because you know that it might not exist forever, but it can also be really rewarding because you are able to see direct impacts you have on that species. Sea turtles often nest on really specific beaches, so if you can protect those areas, or even the specific nests, you can have a real impact on the hatch rate of that species for the year. For eels it was a lot harder, as they migrate so far and have such a complicated life cycle, it was difficult to find anything I could personally do which might help, but I am still very honoured I got to work closely with such an amazing animal which the next generation may never get to see.

    • Photo: Sophie Potter

      Sophie Potter answered on 2 Dec 2021:

      I have mostly worked with common species in my own research (mostly the Trinidadian guppy, which is considered a model species- meaning that it is one regularly used in scientific research and is therefore quite abundant!).
      In the Darwin Tree of Life project however, we are working with all the species in Britain and Ireland, and some of these have quite significant protections around them. To be able to sequence those species, we work closely with conservation experts in those areas. For example, we are working with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland to get the samples we need from wild cats, and a very rare species of hoverfly.