Materials, from blood, feathers, and animal hides to guano and mineral crusts, yield complex, data-driven stories about species spread and evolution. At the Center for Molecular Systematics and Conservation Genetics (MSCG), DNA-based analyses sequencing and analysis makes this information available to researchers.
DNA analyses at MSCG provide genetic, geographic, and often historical answers to biological questions. The center hosts projects from disciplines across Yale on species extinct and extant, from protozoa to giant tortoises. The discoveries made at MSCG inform work in the fields of systematics, evolutionary biology, ecology, paleontology, invasion and conservation biology, and epidemiology. Using a variety of genetic and genomic analytical methods, researchers have explored subjects as wide-ranging as vocal learning in birds, genetic diversity in endangered species, climatic influence on genetics, the geographic origins of invasive species, and the evolution of disease-spreading parasites.
One-on-one training and workshops teach students how to select and use genetic markers and analytical tools. Students participate in faculty-sponsored projects or conduct their own. Over two decades, the center for Molecular Systematics and Conservation Genetics has trained more than two hundred researchers, from high school students to post-doctorates.
Current research at MSCG includes the tracing of evolutionary histories and population dynamics of endangered species, invasive species, and disease vectors—essential subjects for conservation and global stewardship. MSCG applies molecular tools in an evolutionary context, exploring biodiversity and seeking answers for pressing twenty-first century problems.