The Galapagos Science Center, which is a joint organization from The Universidad San Francisco de Quito and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has launched an exciting unprecedented citizen science project in The Galapagos that will be used to help better define the biodiversity of the islands through modern molecular techniques, with help from local people as the on-the-ground citizen scientists.
Barcoding is a way to define and distinguish species using their “genetic fingerprint.” Key DNA markers are turned into an easily scannable barcode that can later be compared with other samples to determine if an individual is from the same species or not. The other good news about this technology is that it requires very little genetic material, so collecting of this precious information is quite non-invasive for the animals.
The initiative will be training Galapagos Citizens, especially those that have been hard hit by the pandemic through the loss of tourism, to help collect and document samples that will later be “barcoded” and recorded, helping us to better understand the true biodiversity of various types of animals found throughout the archipelago.
In the tweet below, The Galapagos Science Center notes that this initiative is collaborative across many cities, but the focus is to give the training, tools, and opportunity to local citizens so that they can do the important field work themselves.
This project is an incredible example of locally-based conservation initiatives that help both nature and people thrive. You can read more about the project through the Center For Galapagos Studies website. Or watch the full documentary made for the German TV channel DW in collaboration with Inventario Documental and the local community.