Using Genetics to Conserve African Elephants


The same kinds of genetic analyses that are used to solve crimes are being used in a variety of new ways in conservation biology. These techniques are turning up such important results so rapidly that it seems like the beginning of a new Age of Discovery, this time of the biological world. As a case in point, it was recently discovered that forest elephants in East Africa are an entirely different species than the savanna elephant1. Zoologists have suspected as much but the genetic information is definitive. There are only about half a million elephants left in the wild in all of Africa. Now we find that about one quarter of them are a separate species. We spoke with Lori Eggert about her work on African elephants using these new techniques.

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