For most of us scientific research tends to happen out there. It happens in mysterious labs, behind closed doors, and funded, well, somehow.
The Kakapo 125 project run by The Genetic Rescue Foundation is different. They have a lofty goal: to sequence the genomes of each of the 125 known living kākāpō, and they’re asking the public to help.
The Genetic Rescue Foundation is … a not-for-profit organization and we hope to use our store as another fundraising avenue to help our talented scientists get the funding they need to complete their amazing research. Initially we’re focusing on The Kakapo 125 project. This project aims to sequence the genomes of all 125 known living kākāpō. The kākāpō is a species of large, flightless, nocturnal, ground-dwelling parrot endemic to New Zealand. A combination of traits make it unique among its kind; it is the world’s only flightless parrot, the heaviest parrot and it’s nocturnal.
[Via News – The Genetic Rescue Foundation: News – The Genetic Rescue Foundation.]
Note for my non-Kiwi readers: kākāpō is pronounced roughly like car (without the r) car po (o as in over).
What a unique opportunity to make something useful happen in a world that seems currently preoccupied by doom and gloom.
I must admit that discovering at the end of the the purchase process that the $400 is US dollars and not NZ dollars almost stopped me from going ahead, but in the end I pressed the button. I’ve sponsored the sequencing of Esperance’s genome. Esperance was hatched in 2002 from an egg from her mother Flossie, and her father Bill. She has had a daughter already, in 2009: Huhana.
By making this purchase you are sponsoring the sequencing of this kākāpō’s genome … Your donation will allow scientists to sequence the genome of this individual kākāpō. The Genetic Rescue Foundation believes in open access science. By sponsoring the sequencing of the genome you will not be the legal owner of this genome. The genome will be public domain and will not be the property of any individual or organization. This will allow scientists to have free and open access to make further discoveries from this genetic information.
[Via Esperance’s Genome – The Genetic Rescue Foundation: Esperance’s Genome – The Genetic Rescue Foundation.]
A nice bonus is that once the genome for Esperance has been sequenced I will receive a piece of DNA Art for my wall.
There are still many kākāpō waiting for sponsorship. How about chipping in? If the US$400 is too much for you get some friends or workmates together and sponsor a bird as a group.
One kākāpō out of 125 is very nearly 1% of the population. How cool to personally be able to do something practical for 1% of an endangered population!
It’s science. It’s ecology. It’s doing something good for New Zealand. Go on, do something.
Check out the Kākāpō Recovery Program.
Also, watch a video about Sirocco, the Official Spokesbird for Conservation.