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Abstract Detail

The Future of Herbarium Genetics and Genomics

Dormontt, Eleanor [1].

Preserve the past, protect the future: botanical reference collections are critical in the fight against illegal logging.

Illegal logging is multibillion dollar global industry that is decimating the earth’s natural forests at an unprecedented rate. Laws to protect forests and prevent international trade in illegal timber help provide the legal frameworks within which timber crimes can be prosecuted, but proving that a crime has been committed can be almost impossible. Timber provides very few diagnostic characters and is extremely challenging to identify; experts in wood anatomy can only rarely identify timber beyond genus. Genetics present an alternative approach to anatomy for identification of timber and can allow species to be distinguished even where they appear identical. Genetics can be used not only to determine the taxonomic identity of a timber sample, but also its provenance through phylogeographic or population genetic approaches. Herbariums provide unparalleled resources for the development and application of genetic tools to identify timber, both through their ongoing taxonomic study, and the availability of preserved material that contains DNA. Working with herbarium material and timber presents some challenges which are explored, along with ways in which herbarium resources can be can be used synergistically with modern collections to maximise the reliability and utility of the resulting identification tests. As the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) works to bring more and more timber species under its control, and the governments of the USA, Europe and Australia enact legislation to prohibit trade in illegally sourced timber of any species, there is an ever pressing need for science to deliver tools that enable reliable identification of timber. At the same time the botanical reference collections essential for the development of these tools are suffering a global funding crisis. The time is right to step up and demonstrate the ongoing relevance of botanical collections and their unique position to help the world combat some of its most pressing environmental challenges.

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1 - University of Adelaide, The Centre for Conservation Science and Technology, School of Biological Sciences, The Environment Institute, Adelaide, SA, 5005, Australia

Illegal logging
Species Identification

Presentation Type: Symposium Presentation
Session: SY04, The Future of Herbarium Genetics and Genomics
Location: Chatham Ballroom - B/Savannah International Trade and Convention Center
Date: Monday, August 1st, 2016
Time: 3:45 PM
Number: SY04006
Abstract ID:319
Candidate for Awards:None

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