You may not know it, but Australia is facing an extinction crisis. With the worst rate of mammalian extinction in the world, over 1,700 species of animals and plants are currently at risk of becoming extinct in Australia. The future of biodiversity conservation relies on multiple factors, including removing native animals from the dangers of introduced predators, changing the culture of clearing land, and having support of the government, conservationists, and society as a whole. These changes would help populations to recover, however when the gene pool of a species has bottlenecked so much, even if the population size increases, their genetic health will remain poor. To avoid the current health problems such as all koalas having chlamydia and Tasmanian devils having infectious facial tumours, genetic rescue is potentially the solution. With Dr Weeks and his colleagues leading the way, endangered and threatened Australian flora and fauna will hopefully flourish once again.
Please join us in offering warmest congratulations to longstanding RSV member Professor Jenny Graves AO, recipient of the 2017 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for her work transforming our understanding of how vertebrate animals, including humans, evolved and function.
Over the span of her career, Jenny has kick-started genomic and epigenetic research in Australia, and predicted the disappearance of the male chromosome.
Jenny’s research has used Australia’s marsupials, monotremes, birds and lizards to understand the complexity of the human genome and to reveal new human genes. She has transformed our understanding of how sex chromosomes work and how they evolved, determining that the human XY sex chromosome system only evolved recently.
Our 2016 joint symposium with Eucalypt Australia addressed the evolution, diversity and conservation of eucalypt species and the future of Australian forests, woodlands and other eucalypt biota. Terrific video summaries of our 2016 symposium presentations are now available here for viewing.