Conservation Science

Oryx conservation genomics

The scimitar-horned oryx has been brought back from the brink of extinction through a series of captive breeding and reintroduction programmes. We run several projects where genetic data is being used to inform their ongoing conservation.

Scimitar-horned oryx reintroduction We are currently working on population-wide genome sequencing of scimitar-horned oryx being reintroduced into Chad, in collaboration with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.  Our objectives are to understand neutral and functional diversity of current and future founders being used for re-establishing the species in the wild.

Scimitar-horned oryx immunogenetics In parallel, we are working on studies of immunogenetic diversity in scimitar-horned oryx. The aim is to characterise the oryx immunogenome, compare it to taxonomically-related species, and explore individual and population-level diversity. The data generated will be used in combination with health data (see the Conservation Medicine page) and information on overall genetic diversity to help inform management decision-making for reintroduction programmes in Tunisia and Chad. This work is being undertaken in collaboration with Marwell Wildlife, the Pirbright Institute and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Arabian oryx genetic management From the brink of extinction in the late 1960’s and early 70’s Arabian oryx numbers in captivity have grown to ~16,000 individuals worldwide, with the majority being held in collections throughout the Arabian peninsula.  Understanding and managing the remaining genetic diversity in these populations is an important aspect of their long-term sustainability.  Our group is currently advising the regional Coordinating Committee for the Conservation of Arabian Oryx on the integration of genetic management into their overall conservation strategy.