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College of Arts and Sciences Endangered Species

$1.4M DoD grant supports new eDNA techniques

Caren Goldberg near an Idaho pond.Freshly drawn from an Idaho pond, the half-liter of water running through Caren Goldberg’s funnel-shaped filter carries trace cells and tiny fragments bearing DNA—genetic code from native frogs and salamanders.

Those few strands of code say a lot to Goldberg, a WSU scientist who studies environmental DNA, or eDNA—genetic material sampled from soil or water rather than directly from an organism. The samples not only identify the animals who live in this pond, they hold the potential to » More …

Dramatic decline in genetic diversity of Northwest salmon charted

Chinook SalmonColumbia River Chinook salmon have lost as much as two-thirds of their genetic diversity, Washington State University researchers have found.

The researchers reached this conclusion after extracting DNA from scores of bone samples — some harvested as many as 7,000 years ago — and comparing them to the DNA of Chinook currently swimming in the Snake and Columbia rivers.

Preserving genetic diversity is a central goal of the Endangered Species Act, in part because it helps a species adapt to changing environments. Yet it is rarely measured to this degree. » More …

Researchers honored for work on environmental DNA

Collecting water samplesWSU researchers Caren Goldberg, Katherine Strickler, and Alex Fremier are being honored this week for their use of a technique that can detect minute amounts of DNA to see if at-risk species are in an area.

The researchers took the Project of the Year for Resource Conservation and Resiliency award during the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program and Environmental Security Technology Certification Program Symposium. » More …

Photographing the elusive, endangered lynx

Deep in the forests of Washington’s Kettle Mountains, Washington State University wildlife biologist Daniel Thornton searches for signs of a rare and elusive type of wild cat — the lynx.

An assistant professor in the School of Environmental Science, Thornton and environmental science graduate students Travis King and Arthur Scully are helping to lead the largest lynx camera survey ever done in the state this June-October.

The goal of the multiyear research project is to understand the distribution and abundance of Washington’s lynx in order to develop an informed plan for their conservation and recovery. The project is sponsored by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Washington State Fish and Wildlife, Conservation Northwest, Osprey Insights, Seattle City Light and the U.S. Forest Service. » More …