Students Catalog DNA Codes of Species in Channel Islands Kelp Forests
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725
Budding scientists from six area high schools will present their research using DNA barcoding for kelp forest species of Channel Islands National Park and National Marine Sanctuary. The students are contributing their work to the Barcode of Life Initiative, a rapidly emerging tool to create a genetic encyclopedia of all plants and animals on Earth. Visit www.ibolproject.org.
National Park Service (NPS) biologist David Kushner will begin the evening’s program by discussing changes and trends observed after 28 years of monitoring the kelp forest ecosystem around the Channel Islands. The Kelp Forest Monitoring Program—the longest established bioinventory and monitoring program in the NPS—has collected comprehensive underwater survey data on over 70 species of algae, invertebrates, and fishes.
The fish and invertebrate species that are monitored through this program have recently become the focus of a student-led biodiversity project to create a genetic library of species using DNA barcoding. DNA barcoding generates a unique identifier that distinguishes species groups in much the same way that a supermarket scanner uses black-and-white UPC barcodes to identify grocery store items.
The program will also include presentations on DNA barcoding by international scientists Dr. Robert Hanner with the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, and Karen James with the Natural History Museum in London. Hanner will discuss how DNA barcoding can be applied to address a variety of important environmental issues such as protecting endangered species, controlling agricultural pests, managing our coastal marine resources, and monitoring ecosystem change through time. James will demonstrate how this real-world scientific initiative can bring the adventure of nature and science to life for students.
This public event is jointly sponsored by Channel Islands National Park and Coastal Marine Biolabs with support from the Smithsonian Institution-hosted Consortium for the Barcode of Life.
Did You Know?
Island foxes are the smallest North American canids and occur only on the Channel Islands. The average weight for an adult male is 5-6 pounds, about the size of a house cat.