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Lesson 2-1: Using Biotechnology to Conserve Species

Page history last edited by mariaelizabethbunn@... 8 years, 11 months ago

Lesson 2-1: <Using Biotechnology to Conserve Species> How can genetics help conserve species?

~10-15 minutes

Student Version Teacher Discussion Notes 

Questions provided could be used for a class discussion or you could have students answer on blank paper and submit.

Ask students to recall their Biotechnology WebQuest (Lesson 1-3).  Here are some suggestions for a few probing questions:

  1. What species do conservation geneticists usually focus on?  (ANSWER: The organisms that conservation geneticists study usually belong to endangered or threatened populations)
  2. What questions do scientists ask in order to develop ways to help these populations? (ANSWER: Scientists ask two questions: What has brought these populations to the brink of extinction, and what steps can we take to reverse this trend?)
  3. How does gathering genetic information about organisms help scientists? (ANSWER: Information about the genetic diversity of the organisms under study helps scientists and managers form strategies to preserve and protect the diversity of plants and animals worldwide.)
  4.  How have we tried to conserve species prior to advances in biotechnology? (ANSWER: Past conservation efforts have addressed populations from a mathematical, evolutionary, or taxonomic point of view)
  5. How do our advances in genetics help conservation efforts? (ANSWER: Modern efforts include genetic studies, giving conservation scientists and ecological managers much more information about the diversity among the individuals in a population. Without genetics, we may conserve the wrong population or waste valuable resources on a population that isn't endangered!)


After Review, show the video "Conservation Genetics and the Luikart Lab". This video gets a little promotional after minute 4, so it's best to stop it at that point. This brief video is about the conservation of Salmonids in Montana, but is a good launching point for talking about what research is happening locally (Lesson 2-2) and introducing UW's work with elephants.


After the video, ask the discussion questions:

  1. What is conservation genetics?
  2. What species is Dr. Luikart researching?
  3. How can hybrid fish be identified?
  4. Why is this field of study so important? 



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