College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Galapagos Tortoises Topic for Science Cafe

 Photo courtesy of Yale University


Photo courtesy of Yale
University

OCTOBER 16, 2014 | BY EDWIN SMITH

Methods for conserving threatened and endangered species of tortoises is the topic for the next installment a monthly public science forum organized by the University of Mississippi Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The fall semester’s third meeting of the Oxford Science Cafe is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 21 at Lusa Pastry Cafe, 2305 West Jackson Ave. Ryan Garrick, UM assistant professor of biology, will discuss “Applications of genetics to Galapagos tortoise conservation.” Admission is free.

“Molecular genetics offers conservation biologists critical information upon which to design efficient, effective management strategies,” Garrick said. “Galapagos tortoises are flagships in this respect because captive breeding programs have been largely facilitated by genetic tools.”

Garrick’s 30-minute presentation will review recent work on this group.

“Occasionally, past hybridization can actually generate positive outcomes for conservation,” he said. “This is the case for Chelonoidis elephantopus, a species that was thought to have been extinct over 150 years ago. However, for another pair of evolutionarily distinct lineages of Galapagos tortoises, ongoing hybridization is likely to lead to a net loss of biodiversity via lineage collapse and replacement with a hybrid swarm.”

Garrick earned his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from La Trobe University in Australia. He was a postdoctoral researcher at Virginia Commonwealth University and at Yale University.

Garrick’s research interests are insect evolution, molecular ecology, biogeography, population genetics and conservation biology.

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